How to Keep Your Head Above Water: Hire Some Help

It’s almost Friday.
And you’re drowning in your To-Do list.

Your newsletter’s due tomorrow, a new client needs paperwork this afternoon, and you have a networking event at lunch today.

You’re behind on the report you promised, you haven’t touched your social media outlets in two weeks, and your website has an outdated page that really needs to come down.

Somehow, you need to plan the launch for the new class that starts next month.

Oh – and both kids have Christmas programs this week. No way are you missing those, but someone’s got to cook dinner. And get to the grocery store.

What’s an entrepreneur to do?

You hire help – but not because you can’t keep up.

You can.

The truth is we wouldn’t have gotten this far if we couldn’t keep all those plates in the air. I don’t know any women who aren’t managing ten things at once from sunrise to moonrise every day. Do you?

You build a team to build your business – and protect your profitability.

We won’t even talk about saving your sanity. :))

Here’s how.

1. Start with you.

Why would someone want to work with you?

What do you bring to the table? Are you easy-going and fun to work with? Or highly structured and pretty demanding? (Either can be a benefit in different situations.)

How will this person grow with you? Learn from you? How will they benefit from a relationship with you in ways other than a paycheck?

2. Do a detailed Service Audit.

Financial advisers often ask clients to keep a money diary for a week. When you list every penny you spend, even that extra 75 cents for a coke, you’ll see patterns you haven’t seen before. The same thing applies here.

Leave a notepad on your desk, and jot down every thing you do for a full week, as you do it, by type of activity.

For example, if you answer an inquiry (a potential new client), note that. If you return a call to a client wanting to change an appointment, note that.

If you run to the post office for stamps, note that. If you print out your notes for the talk you’re giving to the Rotary, note that.

Don’t stop to think about whether this is something you’d delegate or not.

Just capture it. All of it.

3. Study your list.

What patterns and processes do you repeat over and over?

What little things take up your time that almost anyone could do? What are the big things that an expert could do in half the time?

What are the irritating activities that drain your energy? What are the fantastic activities that give you energy?

What activities are actually building your income? (Hint – it probably isn’t running errands, returning routine calls, or posting on Facebook.)

4. Sort your list into groups.

“Chunk it up” into key tasks by process or type.

You may add all calls into one group. Or, you may put all calls AND actions that involve greeting, enrolling, and working with a new client into one group.

When I did this last, I was planning an experiential event (a Secret Adventure). I had an entire list of steps to take before the event, the day of the event, during the event, and the day after the event.

Where is there a natural flow in your business? And where do you get stuck?

That’s what you want to hire someone else to do.

5. List the qualities and skills you want.

What matters most in the people you hire? Is it more about experience and hard skills? Or more about personality and a willingness to learn? Do you want someone who needs and enjoys a lot of guidance? Or would you prefer someone who works largely on their own?

Do you want someone on site? Or are you looking for virtual assistance?

For example, if I’m hiring a VA (virtual assistant) to help with social media marketing, I expect her (or him) to have an up-to-date website herself, with current content on her own social media sites (Facebook, LInked In, etc.). If I’m hiring someone in-house, I expect them to be present a certain number of hours per week.

Use your list as you evaluate applicants.

6. Create your job description.

There are countless options for hiring help. You can hire everything from a personal assistant (to help run those errands and get dinner started) to full time administrative help.

What you do depends on your needs, and your budget.

VA’s are an excellent way to get professional collaborative help while only paying for the time you actually need. I’ve had VA’s and in-house assistants, at different times, and all of them have been a tremendous help.

What set up do you want? What’s your budget? And what are you asking them to do? (Use your list from Step 4.)

7. Begin your search.

One of the most popular places to look for a VA is through AssistU, a premier VA training program in the US. A quick Google search will show many others as well.

You can find folks on Craig’s List, or you could post an ad on an online job search website like

As applicants come in, evaluate them based on your list from step 5.

8. Conduct an interview series.

After you’ve narrowed your list, set up a quick, 15-20 minute call with any finalists first, just to see if you have a connection.

If that goes well, do a follow up in-depth interview, by phone or in person, where you discuss the job in more detail.

9. Decide, then try.

Once you decide to hire, form an agreement to work together for a period of time, usually 1-3 months, on a trial basis.

At the end of that time, have a conversation.  What’s working well? What adjustments need to be made? Do you both want to continue?

Remember, they’re trying you out too. :)

10. Monitor and move forward.

If you’ve taken your time and worked through this process, you are much more likely to hire someone who’s a great fit for your growing business.

Keep the communication open, address issues as they arise, and you’ll do fine.

And suddenly that To Do list isn’t so awful after all. :)

What about you?

What do you look for when hiring help?

 Photo Credit: Banspy on Flickr


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