Hiring the first personal business assistant is an exciting time for new business owners. It means that the business is doing well enough that the business owner can no longer keep up effectively with the demands of the new business. Sales are exploding, and time becomes of the utmost importance. Scheduling of business chores and personal chores can become very demanding and complex. This is the time new business owners often find themselves considering a personal business assistant.
A personal business assistant differs from a clerical worker or secretary, as the duties are more diverse for a personal assistant. A personal assistant will do whatever is needed to make the business run smoothly and will do whatever is necessary to make the business owner’s life run smoothly also. Although a personal assistant usually also performs clerical and secretarial duties, a personal assistant is more a “jack of all trades” than any other type of employee and the duties may include personal chores done on behalf of the employer.
The choice of a personal assistant therefore should be given the utmost consideration. Here is a list of possible qualities to look for when choosing a personal assistant:
Flexibility of Schedule: the hours a personal assistant works can be very varied, depending upon the needs of the business owner. These hours can include some nights and weekends when social activities and business meetings may occur.
Flexibility of Personality: a good personal assistant needs a flexible, easy-going personality, as the demands of the job can be quite stressful, as well as diverse.
Ability to Multi-Task: since the tasks are diverse, multitasking abilities are an absolute necessity.
Ability to Bond and Work Well with Others: the personal assistant will be exposed to everyone involved in many ways within the business, as well as the business owner and clients. An ability to establish relationships easily with others is mandatory.
Ability to Learn Quickly and Effectively: a personal assistant will need to come into a business and learn every duty quite quickly and effectively. There may be a large learning curve, depending upon the business and the needs of the business owner.
Knowledge of Office Procedures and Other Procedures Associated with the Business: without some prior knowledge of office procedures and routine procedures that are unique to the business hiring the assistant, problems usually occur.
A Good Work History: having a personal assistant that reports to work sporadically or is frequently late, with many absences, will only cause frustration overall for the business owner and create more work, not diminish the workload.
The Ability to Use Judgment and Work with Little Supervision: a good personal assistant will need to be self-motivated, making many of their own judgment calls concerning the business.
Leadership Qualities: there will be duties required and chores given the personal assistant which will require taking charge of others at times, and accomplishing goals.
Organizational Skills: with the amount of chores and diversity of chores required of a personal assistant, a good one will have high-end organizational skills, will be able to prioritize effectively, and will not suffer from “analysis paralysis”, but will be able to make decisions quickly and efficiently.
Self Confidence: a good personal assistant will need to be aware of their own needs and the needs of others and will have to stand by decisions without backing down, therefore confidence in themselves and their decisions is necessary.
Customer Service Skills: many of the chores that a personal assistant performs will bring the assistant into direct contact with clients, therefore great customer service skills are also mandatory.
A business owner seeking to hire a personal assistant should look for the qualities above and also use their own intuition about an individual applying for this position. The business owner should also seek to hire someone whose personality and goals meshes with their own, as the personal assistant and the business owner will spend many hours each day together, and will need to be of the “same mind” about major issues.
It is also important when hiring a personal assistant to determine how much the business can afford to pay a personal assistant, and also to be realistic about the costs of a “quality personal assistant”. Many personal assistants will work for reasonable rates, depending upon the country in which the business owner and assistant reside. This usually doesn’t translate into “minimum wage requirements”, however, as the diversity of the job itself would require a higher pay scale in order to attract more talented applicants for the position. A good rule of thumb is to pay as “high as possible” while still staying within the budget of the business.
After all, in a situation such as the search for a qualified, reliable, energetic personal assistant, “cheap is not always better”.