May 25, 2016

The 5 key mistakes that entrepreneurs make when hiring help

It’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of outsourcing.  I started early and outsourced often and that’s one of the main reasons I was able to build my first business, 15 minutes at a time.

You can do it, too.  Just don’t make these 5 mistakes….

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Mistake # 1- Not hiring for the role

There are many things a VA (virtual assistant) can help you with but knowing what exactly you need help with before you set out to hire is an important first step.

This depends on your business of course and what tasks you’re spending the most time on.  If you’re not sure, keep track of them for a couple of weeks.

If you are hiring the wrong person for the role, it’s not gonna work out.

Do you need a detail-oriented person? Do you need someone with English as a first language? Will there be writing involved? Do you need them to have design skills?   These are questions you need to answer before you set out on your search.

Spoiler alert: Not everyone is good at everything. And luckily, if you're hiring contractors, you don't need to hire one person that's a Jack or Jill of all trades. You can hire based on the tasks for the amount of time that you need for each thing.

Mistake # 2- Not training and/or onboarding your assistant

The second big mistake that I see is not training or onboarding someone. It’s one thing if you’re hiring a lawyer or accountant, where most of the time, their services are clearly outlined and they can do their job with minimal input from you.  

It’s another thing entirely when you’re hiring someone to manage your social media or design images or handle your customer service.  This person will likely be working alongside you and to some degree will be replacing you in certain tasks that you've been doing all this time.  You probably have a specific way that you want to do it and I have yet to find a mind reader.  

You need to spend a little bit of time training and onboarding them to make sure that they can do it the way that you like it and the way you expect it done. Which leads us straight into…

Mistake # 3- Not having systems and procedures in place

This will be a whole separate blog post very soon.  Having systems and procedures (like a manual with detailed step by step instructions) is essential for your business to continue to thrive (and even grow) when you start bringing on assistants and other team members to help you.

These often live in our heads where no one else can access them.  It’s really important for you to take them out of your head and put them on paper (or digital “paper”) so you can share them with your team and they can do things exactly how you want them done, without steps getting missed and important details slipping through the cracks.

At the bare minimum you can start doing this now by using a free screen recording software like quicktime to simply record your screen while doing a task and save a folder full of these videos for your assistant to list out the steps.

Mistake # 4- Micromanaging

Any control freaks in the house?  <raiseshand>  Ok, I’m more of a “recovering control freak”.  This comes with the territory with entrepreneurs but it comes with a potential side effect: micromanaging.

If you're hiring someone that is right for the role and you’ve onboarded them and have systems and procedures in place, it's time for you to step back and let them do their job.

If you’re micromanaging people all day long, you’re not going to have the time (and energy) to do what you need to be doing as the CEO and visionary, and your team will get discouraged because they’ll feel like their hands are tied and like you don’t trust them to do their job.

Of course you need to give feedback along the way, especially in the beginning when the working relationship is new and you’re both getting used to each other and working out the kinks in communication and project management.

Pro tip: Ask your team for their opinion first. After you’ve thoroughly listened and asked for their suggestions, then you can be the final deciding vote on that.  Hat tip to Cameron Herold, author of Meetings Suck for that invaluable tip.

Mistake # 5- Outsourcing the vision or strategy

Admittedly, this one is pretty rare. It’s much more common to find a micromanaging entrepreneur than one who goes overboard with the outsourcing.  But every once in a while I’ll come across an ad for a VA that basically is an ad for a CEO.  

If you want to replace yourself as a CEO that’s a whole other ball game.  If you’re looking for an entry level VA, have a limited hiring budget and are new to outsourcing, I would recommend you outsource the tasks that can support your vision and strategy, not the vision and strategies themselves.

Now I'd love to hear from you.

Are you making any of these mistakes?  Are there any others that you think I missed?  Let me know in the comments below!


The 5 key mistakes that entrepreneurs make when hiring help

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