TURNING TIME INTO MONEY: However, believing that time is money and everything I do should make money, I realized that many of my days were spent doing things that needed to be done, such as routine errands, but not really making money.
When I began to pencil out the time I spent working on various charity projects, picking up dry cleaning, running to the bank, and similar projects unrelated to running the business, I realized if I spent the money to have someone else handle these things I could focus my time on marketing, sales presentations, client visits, and similar tasks. I could devote more undivided time to each. The end result should be landing more accounts, developing more solid relationships with clients, and having a better grip on the business while reducing my stress level.
I started with a part-time assistant because I was afraid of the money commitment. There is also a certain learning curve in becoming familiar with various projects I was working on, how the business works, how I work, and basic daily operations. Until an assistant becomes versed at these things, you don’t have much to offer because you spend so much of it telling your assistant how you want the job done and the steps to take to accomplish it. After working side by side, your assistant will begin to think like you, talk like you, and perform like you because that is how you trained her.
I have had a full time assistant for eight months now. It allowed me to take a long vacation in May while knowing anything that came up would be handled as it came up. In the past, returning from vacation meant dealing with a stack of mail, tons of e-mails, and plenty of phone calls to return. All of it would leave me wondering why I ever took a vacation, as it would literally take weeks to catch up. If you think about all you do in a single day and realize none of it gets done when you are gone but waits for you to return, you can see the dilemma.
When you come home, you must still accomplish everything you do in a single day PLUS squeeze in the work that didn’t get done for five days. There is no way to do that in five days because you can only squeeze in about two hours a day of the “old” work and you have 40 hours of it to squeeze in at the rate of two hours a day. This means it takes 20 business days to get caught up in theory.
The biggest challenge I faced was allowing someone to see every facet of my life and share personal details such as passwords, PIN codes for bank accounts, my Social Security number, date of birth, and other important details needed to transact business on my behalf. Today, my assistant knows all my family members, close personal friends, and a great deal about my life. I had to adjust to someone making my appointments and learn to live with them. If she sets a lunch or early morning appointment, I just have to be there.
The increased productivity has been fantastic and my assistant has turned out to be quite the little marketing machine as well. She has even initiated getting me in the door of a major oil company for a presentation. She landed a major account herself that has been using our services six days a week. That account alone could pay her wages. With everything I touch in a day, I ask myself if this is something I should do or give to my assistant?
Yesterday, she completed the entire application for us to obtain airport authority at Long Beach Airport. If you have ever done such an application, you know how time consuming it is to make photocopies of every vehicle registration, order insurance certificates, provide copies of your various licenses, and handle all the other details requested. To be able to hand that to someone and have it completed one hour later is a much better use of my time.
If you feel you are getting bogged down with paperwork and errands that are not productive, you may want to consider a personal assistant. You can start her a few days a week with a few hours a day and gradually you will learn to rely on her more and trust her to get the job done. Sooner rather than later, you’ll want her to work full time.
-- Jim Luff, LCT contributing editor
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