If you are reading my blog, chances are you either own your own business or want to own your own business. My blog teaches people how to invest in long-term rental properties, which is one of the easiest and most profitable businesses to run. In order to run a profitable businesses that can grow into to something big, you have to learn to hire great people and delegate tasks. I have been a Realtor since 2002 and my business took off after I hired a great assistant and started to let other people do the busy work.
When I first hired an assistant I knew I needed help, I was drowning in tasks and working 10 to 12 hour days plus the weekends. It was very apparent something had to change before I burned out or started making mistakes. After I hired my first assistant my workload was decreased significantly, but I was still working a lot. I hadn’t realized how many items in my business I was ignoring when I was really busy. I had been stuck doing the day-to-day tasks to keep my business going and I forgot about going after new business or improving my systems. While one part of my business was going crazy, the other parts were doing worse, because I had neglected them. I didn’t want to neglect them, but I simply did not have enough time in the day to do everything.
The first thing hiring an assistant did, was allow me to spend time on improving my current business model. I was able to make my systems more efficient I was able to free up even more time. With that extra time I was able to focus on getting new business and making sure all parts of my current business were getting adequate attention. It is funny how it works, but every time I hire someone new or add more hours to someone’s work load I am able to fill the free time I gain almost immediately. With the extra time I am able to work on tasks I have been putting off, or explore new streams of income. It feels pretty good knowing I have traded busy work I was doing for work that could produce new business or even new businesses.
I am in the process of hiring another person to join our team this summer. Right now, I work from about 8:30 to 5:00 most days with time worked in to play 9 holes of golf once or twice a week. I have flexibility to go swimming with my family in the afternoon or go drive Lamborghini like I did a few weeks ago! I rarely work on the weekends, we usually go on two one week-long vacations a year and I go to a couple of conferences a year. I have learned not to drive myself into the ground with work, but I have many ideas for new income streams and ways to gain more business. Instead of working longer hours to bring in more business or set up new income streams, I am going to hire another person. Not only will this person provide me with more free time but cutting down in my work load, but they can help develop the new income streams as well. If I am going to reach my goal of purchasing 100 rental properties I am definitely going to need to increase my income.
When to hire help
Something I wish I would have realized well before I hired my assistant is doing everything myself is a huge mistake. The more work I had the longer hours I worked and the more hours I worked the more fatigued I became. I have many different things going on at once in my work and that makes it fun and stressful at times. I work on REOs, BPOS(broker price opinions), fix and flips, regular sales, and other miscellaneous items. When I get really busy I start making mistakes and forgetting work related tasks. When you are dealing with Real Estate, mistakes can become very expensive. If I were to lose an REO client it could cost me tens of thousands of dollars or more! I was lucky that I managed to keep up with the important items when I was extremely busy, but with help I am able to keep up so much better and I actually have free time.
My advice to anyone running a business is to hire help before you think you need it. Even if you are handling things perfectly without help, are you actually working on your business or working for your business? The reason we start our own business is to make more money, have more freedom or both. A business owner’s goals should be increasing profits, adding additional income streams or starting new businesses. It is impossible for most business owners to accomplish these goals without help to take care of the day-to-day busy work. An assistant can take care of the busy work and will allow you to work on the important money-making activities In my experience the more free time I have the more work that comes in. With free time I am able to focus on new ideas and improving systems, I’m not drowning in busy work. With those new ideas almost always comes new opportunities and eventually more work and more money.
When people wait to hire help until they are too busy to handle all of their current tasks, they run into a huge problem. They have to find time to hire someone, train them and make sure the new hire is doing their job correctly. How can someone possibly manage all those activities effectively if they don’t have enough time to complete all the tasks for the business? The sooner help is hired the easier the transition is and the less stress there is in the entire process.
An assistant provides motivation!
Once you hire someone to help with your business you now have a responsibility for another persons income. This can be intimidating at first, but it is also very cool to know you are helping someone take care of their family by providing a job. Use this as motivation to improve your businesses. The better you do and the more money you make, the more secure your assistants job is and you may even be able to hire more people. The more successful you are, the more people you can hire and help support your local economy.
An assistant helps provide new ideas
When you start your own business you are immersed in the day-to-day activities, planning and every aspect of that business. You eat, sleep and dream about your business and how to make it succeed. When you are involved in something all the time sometimes we miss the simple things that can improve our business. We are so focused on making the business work perfectly that we miss obvious things that can be improved on.
By hiring someone to help with the business you are adding another mind to the mix. Even if the new assistant has no experience and no idea what your business is about they still have a new perspective. Sometimes that is exactly what you need to make your business work. Someone new can see simple things that will improve a business that the business owner is missing because he or she is so used to how things are done.
I would always encourage bosses to listen to their employees and promote an open idea environment. The more ideas that are expressed the better chance a great idea will be discovered. There is no rule that says a boss has to listen to every idea their employee has so what do you have to lose?
An assistant also gives you someone to socialize with. You have someone you can bounce ideas off of and talk to during the day. Many entrepreneurs start out with just themselves and it can get boring during the day. You can only talk to yourself or your desk for so long before you start wonder if you are slowly losing it.
I would caution to be careful about how much you socialize. You don’t want to spend so much time talking that you don’t get any work done. As a Realtor I see many people who spend more time talking and gossiping then they actually do working. When you have no boss to keep you in line you have to make sure you keep yourself in line.
Training someone helps you train yourself
My blog has been a very similar experience to training a new worker. My blog has helped me dive deeper into real estate investing and learn new techniques. My blog also reinforced basic investing ideas and principles that I never thought about because I had been in Real Estate so long I thought I knew it all. When you are training someone you are also training yourself. If you hire an assistant who has no idea what your business is about then it makes you teach them all the basics. I think this is a great way to remind yourself of the fundamentals of your business and look for ways to improve.
When your training someone to do a new job it is also a great time to put together a manual on how to perform the duties you require. You can even have the new hire put the manual together as they learn new tasks. If the new hire does not work out or you need to hire more people in the future, the manual can make it much easier to train new people.
Vacations, time with your spouse and kids!
If you are a one many show running your business, how can you take a vacation? If you can manage to take a vacation then you will probably be worrying the entire time about what could go wrong while you are away. An assistant may not be able to do as good a job as you can, but they can handle most tasks and figure many things out on their own. At the very least an assistant should be able to screen calls and only forward the really important issue that need taken care of right away. Once you get an assistant or two who really know what they are doing it is now possible to go on vacation without working at all! For many business owners, this is a dream that is too far away to seem possible.
Owning a business can also mean working long and crazy hours. Many times our families suffer because of the work load we take on. The sooner you can hire help and start delegating tasks to someone else, the more time and flexibility you will have. If an emergency comes up during your kid’s soccer game and you have no help, chances are you are going to have to leave the game to take care of the problem. If you have an assistant, you now have someone else who can take care of the problem and you can stay at the game and cheer on your child.
What do you hate doing?
We all have tasks in our job or things we have to do in our business that drive us crazy. We procrastinate and hope they magically do themselves while we are sleeping. The problem is those tasks never seem to go away on their own. If you hire help, you can now delegate the things you dislike most about your day to someone else. Accounting and keeping track of expenses, answering the phone, filing reports, scheduling and any other task that you dislike can be delegated to someone else. Not only do you have more free time if your help is doing those tasks, you are now happier and enjoy your job more.
Time is money
A great idea that I recently heard from Jack Canfield is to delegate everything you do below your income level. Basically, that means if your time is worth $20 an hour and you can hire someone to do tasks for $10 an hour do it! Time is our most valuable asset, we cannot buy more of it no matter how much money we have. Focus on the tasks that will make you more money and let someone else do the mundane tasks. Take the time to think about how much your time is worth per hour and what you can hire out below your income level.
I have recently started having someone else take care of my yard. In past years, I thought it was my duty as an American male to mow the lawn, fertilize the grass and pull weeds. I realized this year, I can hire someone to do all of this and I can spend more time with my family. It is much more important to me to spend time with my family then to live up to a stereotype of what I should be doing with my time. I have started to analyze how I spend time in all aspects of my life and if the things I am doing are worth the time they consume.
How to find a great assistant
I have been extremely lucky to hire good people whenever I need someone new. I think one of the reasons I have been lucky is I have used referrals from friends or co-workers for everyone I have hired. I always interview people and try to get a gut feeling for the person and if they will be a good worker or not. I also depend heavily on opinions from people I trust. I have hired people who did not interview well, because their recommendations were so great. Those people have worked out great and I could not be happier! My assistant now worked with my sister before, but my sister could not give her enough hours so she needed a new job. My sister was a great reference and the interview was basically done just to go through the motions. Another one of our assistants was recommended by a couple of Realtors in our office and he has been great as well. If you are looking for help, I recommend asking everyone you know if they know someone who needs a job.
What if I can’t afford an assistant?
If your budget is tight and you are worried you don’t make enough to hire help there are options. One great option I have never used, but I have heard many people rave about is hiring a virtual assistant. Virtual assistants can be hired from online companies and may be located in many different countries including the US. Virtual assistants can be extremely affordable and you can customize your assistant to the tasks you need done. The more complex the job the more expensive the assistant usually is. You can ask for an assistant who is a great writer, good with the computer, can create a website or does email marketing. The assistant can be hired full-time or for only a couple of hours a week.
Hire someone with experience or someone who is brand new to your business?
Many people want to hire someone with experience in their business field. They don’t want to have to teach everything to them, usually because they don’t have the time. Other people may want to hire someone with no experience whatsoever, because they want a fresh slate to work with. I can go either way with these philosophies as both points of view make sense. I would advise to interview someone thoroughly if they have experience in your field of work. The last thing you want, is someone who thinks they know how to do everything, but does it all wrong and you have to retrain them. Retraining takes more time than training someone brand new, because you have to break old habits and that can be very difficult.
Payroll, taxes and reporting
Many people don’t hire help because they don’t want to bother with figuring out payroll, deducting taxes and filing all the necessary paperwork. There is a very simple solution to this problem, hire someone to take care of it for you. There are many payroll companies that will do everything necessary to pay that person, keep records and file paperwork for you.
If you think your ever going to need help to run your business, get help before you think you will need it. Hiring someone will give you more free time, allow you to do the tasks you like doing and have more fun at work. Most people spend way too much time on day-to-day tasks and not enough time on the money making activities that build a business. Hiring help will shift your focus from day-to-day to the big picture, new business, new clients and more money!