Why This Is the Year You Will Hire an Assistant
A few years back, I was talking to my social media manager and at the time overall right hand, Laura, about my tasks and commitments throughout the week.
At the time I was running my business, blogging on the side, as well as a practising personal trainer.
“All right, so, 45 hours on Creative Impact, then the blog, the newsletter and the PT stuff…”
As the note-taker in the business, she kept scribbling and doing the maths.
She looked up and asked, “Would you say another 15 for your PT clients?”
“Yeah I guess that is accurate”, I replied, trying to keep up with my very own mental arithmetic skills.
“So that is 60 hours” she finally announced. I raised my eyebrows, whilst internally my jaw dropped. Ah. Well, that was news to me.
Straight after that, my brain starts infiltrating other questions:
“Did you count the time you spend on Instagram? What about those cheeky emails you send between the station and work?”
I felt physically sick. Do what you love and you’ll never work one day in your life.
Some days I wonder if this anonymous person was trying to justify their incredibly busy schedule to their partners. Truth is, I do not want to sound like a bitter and ungrateful sod.
However, with the external and internal pressures, the feeling is much stronger than what we let others see.
Self-employed or multi-hyphen entrepreneurs bear a lot of pressure on their shoulders, overworking is not something that is really openly discussed. I have been there.
I was the business coach of financial freedom and passive income rocks.
However, most times the amount of work that needed to go to achieve any of the above was clearly understated.
The moment of acceptance and realisation can feel physically painful.
However, in order to grow, make a bigger impact and overall have the time to implement all the other habits, being ‘selfish’ is essential. There are a few straight forward ways to do so — asking for help being the biggest one, which I’ll cover later in this session.
A few more ways include delegation and automation.
Delegate and bring people into your vision
“A good leader leads the people from above them. A great leader leads the people from within them.”-M. D. Arnold
The main obstacle when it comes to implementing delegation is that most times it is a leap of faith.
Both for our wallets and our control-freak minds.
Type A people like Yours Truly know that delegating is important. But how quickly can we make up for that investment? And how can we be sure people will be it like we want?
Delegating is both a mental and financial investment. As simple as that.
Sometimes I made massive poops and hired people who would not fit — and found it 500 times harder to delegate again.
However, I stopped seeing it as a loss, and I turned it into gain — as I learned more about business and how to liaise with employees, and just like in relationships, it teaches you what you are looking for in someone.
Let’s be honest, we are being incredibly picky about our partners, so why would we not be the same about the people we have to see day in and day out, nine until five?
For the purpose of this article, I read a lot of research, books and articles about hiring.
I do believe that from assistants to co-founders, everyone you want to bring into your vision has to be vetted effectively.
Should you hire a VA?
A lot of people start with a VA — virtual assistant.
The virtual assistant will basically organise your life and tackle all the tasks that are time-consuming, mind-numbing (for a lack of a better word) and tedious.
VAs and business partners are the roles you see cropping out a lot for personal brands.
VAs help you making your life easier, business partners support you when launching a side-project — yet you need to make sure you are truly ready to start a business with a friend.
In a world where Instagram has turned into everyone’s CV, are skills still the most relevant thing to look for in someone wanting to join your vision?
I personally have a very clear idea of the personality of the people I want to include the Creative Impact vision.
I always thought it was not as important as skills and numbers — it turns out that is what makes or breaks the way you grow your influence.
Let’s put it this way: just because you may not be a business yet, this does not mean you should not value the hiring process. Hiring is often treated as a last-minute necessity — an approach that brings poor results.
To make sure that your vision has the talent it needs to succeed, you should instead make hiring a top priority.
As someone looking to do world takeover on their own, this time of work can be incredibly exhausting, as freelance recipe developer Niki Webster from Rebel Recipes points out when discussing the life of a freelancer:
”the hardest part is not being part of a team and having people to bounce ideas off. I try to network as much as possible and have some amazing friends but I still miss being in a team.”
There are many ways to find, vet and approve people, but I found that for me (and friends who have gone through the process) there are a few key aspects to bear in mind.
First, you need to be clear on your vision, mission and messaging.
Your tone, the way you want to communicate your message are something you need to be able to present to a stranger in the street in less than a minute. If you still cannot do that, you may want to wait for hiring someone.
I know that I am looking for fun, tongue-in-cheek, informative messages and communication. It’s memorable and should steal everyone a smile. People who can bring that to the mix are the winners for me.
This means — wait for it — that ensuring a cultural fit might mean saying no to people with serious talent.
Just remember: a prospective hire might be incredible at their job, but not share your company’s values and, in the end, your brand and your mission are more important than that.
It’s best to get referrals from your networks, both your community and the private network.
That’s not just me saying it. Seventy-seven percent of the CEOs interviewed in the book Who, a fascinating book by Geoff Smart and Randy Street about hiring and company culture, said that using their own network was hands down the best way to make successful hires for their company.
One of the key when it comes to the right people is to always be searching for some people that seem to be fitting the bill, not just seeking them out when you know you need them.
This saves you having a poll of people you are just half-way happy with.
Let’s say you find the right people, now what?
There are plenty of techniques and ways to vet your potential candidates, however, one of the things I think it’s still heavily overlooked, is the importance of putting people in a position of having to complete a task (or series thereof) and assess their efficiency, working methods etc.
Even better if you give them little instruction on the methods, and let them naturally show you how they’d tackle a specific situation.
Overall, you want to make sure you can work alongside someone, and being able to see them in action is the most important step of them all.
Boundaries. Boundaries. More boundaries.
However, it’s not just that.
As highly connected humans, we want to answer emails in a heartbeat. As simple as that. In a world where we scroll Instagram 10 times per hour, boundaries are blurred.
Especially when the dreaded feeling of failure kicks in, it’s easy to weight in the hours. If I work more, I’ll achieve more.
Despite everything looking glossy in the magical world of social media, the bigger your influence gets, the more pressure you naturally put on yourself.
It is the basic concept of responsibility, as well as honour.
However, kicking back may open more doors than expected. Truth is, it’s never easy. It is a great form of control.
The universe challenges you in mysterious ways:
“You know that project you wanted so badly? Guess what? They accepted your proposal! You do not mind adding that to your plate, do you?”
“Remember that VA of yours? She is getting married in the Palapagos next week!”
When life throws you a curveball or two, you gotta breathe deeply and move on.
How to set better boundaries
“Daring to set boundaries is about having the courage to love ourselves, even when we risk disappointing others.” — Brene Brown
The main action you can take is to set better and stronger boundaries — here are a few ideas on how to do so:
• Set an autoresponder with clear email times or turnaround time
• Add clear working hours to any agreement you send
• Do not check your email before/after a certain time
• Take notifications off your phone
• Delete social / email apps that you cannot stop checking
In the meanwhile, there’s one more thing you can do when things start feeling too much.
Ask for someone to listen. Whether it is a mastermind group, a peer friend, your partner — you gotta let it out. No, do not lash out like a banshee. Most time the solution is already there, but you are too deeply engrossed in your thoughts to notice it.
It’s not about work-life balance, as much as it is about work-life boundaries — to quote Niki Webster when asking her about finding balance:
”I’m always working towards balance. I tend to prioritise work over everything else. It’s important for me to incorporate time to train. It gives my day structure so ideally: yoga in the morning and cardio or weights later. However, I don’t worry if I don’t have time to do that and I’m kinder to myself now. Spending time with friends and being in the countryside is also really important to me.”
To go back to the ‘love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life’, we all know that working on something you truly love is infectious, and it’s hard to say no to.
However, friendships, relationships and wanderlust are equally important.
I help people grow their online audience and monetise their content and unleash their potentials as creatives.