Business

You Are Probably Looking for the Wrong Type of Personal Assistant


As a business owner, one of the best things that you can do to help maximize your time and be able to focus on the big picture items is to hire a personal assistant. In my 25-plus years of business coaching, I have seen so many business owners propel their business growth by having someone to take items off their plate. But not all personal assistants are created equal. Some may actually cause you to lose momentum and do more work, instead of less. So today, I want to review the different types of personal assistants and discuss which ones are best for you as a business owner. 

The first type of personal assistant is what I would call a gopher. You do not want a gopher.  A gopher is someone you have to tell them every little thing to do. Move this file from here to here. Save this document and call it XYZ. Basically it is just an open invitation to the unpopular world of micromanaging. If you are interested in growth you’re not looking for a gopher.  

The second type of  assistant would be the person that I would consider an administrative assistant. And is what most business owners assume that they need. But again, I don’t think this is the right fit for most entrepreneurs. An administrative assistant is capable of doing clearly defined, concrete tasks. Which is usually not enough for a growing business. Why? As a business owner, nothing is ever clearly defined. There’s always going to be some level of ambiguity, and an admin person is often unable to handle that level of uncertainty. They’re just uncomfortable with it. 

The third type of assistant would be the executive assistant, and is the one that I recommend for most of my business coaching clients. This type of person is really quite competent, and in most administrative functions, they can handle it with ease. Even if you give them an ambiguous thing that requires some research or a more complicated execution. For instance, my executive assistant recently noticed that Amazon had delisted one of my books for some reason. She took it on herself to research the issue and come up with a solution to get the book put back on the digital shelves. And with things like this she’s better at it than I am. She’s got more patience and more persistence with that type of stuff. And knowing that I can trust her frees me up to focus on things that matter most in my business. 

For some of you, particularly if you are running a larger company, you may need someone with more competency. Which is where the fourth type of assistant, a chief of staff, comes into play. This would be somebody who is kind of like your personal COO. This person is probably better at execution in the business world than you are, but they want to play a secondary role, and they’ll help you get where you need to be. Generally, a chief of staff position opens up when you’ve found somebody at a lower level that you can promote up, that can grow into that role. Essentially an executive assistant that has been with you long enough to know the ins and outs of your business and wants to take on more responsibility. My chief of staff started their career as an executive assistant and now handles most of the day to day activities within my company. 

So if you are looking for a personal assistant, I urge you to look at your needs and hire the correct person(s) for the job. Because in most cases a gopher or an administrative assistant will just end up being more work in the long run, whereas an executive assistant or chief of staff can help you excel and scale your business. 

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.


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