Sunday, February 13, 2011

Even YOU Should Hire a Personal Assistant

Most people think personal assistants are for the wealthy. Unless you're flat broke, even if you're unemployed, consider hiring a personal assistant to do your house cleaning, laundry, errands, gardening, wait for the repairman to come, etc.

In our jobless non-recovery, quality people can be hired for $10-15 an hour. Even hiring someone for a few hours a week can be a great investment. If you're a job seeker, you can spend those hours looking for a job. That's of far greater value than the cost of the assistant. If you're working, you're freed up to be more productive and, in turn, position yourself for a raise.

Even if don't care about earning more money, consider hiring a personal assistant: S/he will give you that most valuable of commodities: time, time for recreation, family, or productive work .

I've had a personal assistant for the past 20 years and each has stayed with me an average of five years. The keys:
  • Don't hire someone too marketable or they'll leave. (It takes time to train someone. You don't want to have to go through that every few months.) You don't need a superstar; you need a responsible, kind, ethical person with reasonable intelligence.
  • Treat the person wonderfully. That needn't mean a high rate of pay. It means treating them with respect and kindness, giving earned praise, showing interest in them as a person, and doing little niceties like taking them out to lunch or giving them small presents. Those are not favors. I've truly enjoyed being a kind boss to my assistants.
  • I give my assistant a lot of autonomy on how s/he does her tasks and her hours are flexible. Not only does s/he appreciate those things, it helps me establish that s/he meets the requirements for a 1099 contractor rather than a W-2 employee, which saves me costs and paperwork.
I recommend finding your assistant not by placing an ad but by asking your friends and relatives for referrals. You'll likely be giving that person a credit card and full access to your home. If the person is a friend or someone recommended by a friend, s/he is more likely to be trustworthy.


Jeff Shore said...

My personal assistant is now an employee. In hindsight this was probably not the best move on my part, but I cannot deny how helpful she has been, and how much more I can concentrate on the things most important to me (generating revenue and serving my client base).

Early on I used a "virtual assistant" who lived on the opposite coast. Everything was done by phone and e-mail. It wasn't ideal and I spent too much for the service ($30 per hour), but it was great to have someone on an as-needed basis.

WorkingLateAtOPIC said...

Good advice, Slim. I've hired assistants from $15/hr to $65/hr and they were worth every penny. Tip: Hire someone who has strengths you don't. For instance, I'm a word person, not a numbers person, so I have someone coming this weekend to help me get my financial docs in order for taxes. Also, re: being a good boss... For VD this year, I bought a dozen red roses and gave one to each staffer in a ribbon-tied vase with a valentine and red-frosted heart-shaped brownie. The next day, I was greeted with emails and VMs of thanks saying how much it meant to them. It wasn't expensive; but for the roses, I bought everything at Big Lots and Target. I got much more pleasure out of making them feel appreciated than if I'd gotten the dozen red roses myself.


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