Stop me if you're heard this one.
Your business is growing - but you're in a tight spot.
You're at that difficult but predictable point where you need more cashflow to create additional growth, but you're so trapped in the day-to-day operations, you're not sure where you're supposed to find the time. The reality is you've been in hardcore hustle mode for a while now, and (even though you'd never admit it) you're getting tired.
You think hiring someone would enable you to do more of the income producing work your business needs to grow, but you're not 100% sure which hire will be the most effective, or even if you need a full-time person yet.
In his book, The Small Business Life Cycle, Charlie Gilkey calls this the Crucible Stage.
"Entrepreneurs in this stage are at the delightfully frustrating point at which they’re booked solid and working at full steam, but the demand for their goods and services outstrips their ability to meet it. Something has to give, but entrepreneurs often don’t want to let go of the business activities that have gotten them to this stage."
Reaching this stage is commendable - but it's also trial by fire for many founders because to do what's going to get you where you need to go, you can't keep doing what you've done before. You have to let go of the tasks that simply aren't as high value.
That's why there's a solid argument to be made for an administrative assistant being your first hire, because if you're not hiring for admin, you're doing admin. However, the reality is most early stage owners only need part-time administrative help, making virtual assistants a better overall choice for meeting their needs.
(For reference, Prialto's packages start at 55 hours because we've been able to refine our process over time to best serve at every stage of business. We've discovered this is the perfect starting number of hours for the majority of executives and founders until they learn how to fully utilize their PA.)
You already know hiring at the right time is imperative - but how can you be sure now is the time?
While there are no hard and fast guidelines for knowing when it's time to hire a virtual assistant, there are some clear indicators that will help you make the decision to bring someone on.
Curious if now is the time to hire? We've compiled a list of questions to ask yourself.
Is it time to hire a virtual assistant?
Are you spending more than 30 minutes a day scheduling appointments?
Appointment scheduling is an easily outsourced task, once you've defined your standard operating procedures, and for top performers, it's one that can save you hours a week when it's done correctly.
If you're already using a scheduling tool like Calendly or Acuity, that's a great place to start, but the reality is that a piece of software isn't smart enough (yet) to adjust your schedule for you when plans need to change.
Do you dread tracking your receipts?
Data entry isn't a good use of your time, and that's all tracking your receipts amounts to. If you're not using Expensify yet, this is a simple way to upgrade how you're tracking your expenses.
Do you feel like you should be getting more done, but you can’t fit in another task right now?
First off, congratulations. Not everyone gets the privilege of hitting this point in their position, and it means you've identified a prime opportunity and position for additional growth. If you're hitting your capacity, this is the perfect time to start looking into hiring a virtual assistant. To prep, start writing down your current administrative tasks.
Is data entry a daily part of your day?
At risk of sounding like a broken record, getting rid of your data entry tasks is one of the best ways to make more space in your schedule. If you're building businesses, running companies, and creating an impact in the world around you, you can't afford to be wasting time on admin.
Are details falling through the cracks despite your best efforts?
Details matter. It's the difference between looking like a pro or a pleb. You can't afford not to have outstanding followup, meeting confirmations, and more, and while automation can handle a good portion of this, rescheduling and more requires a human touch to it. A good assistant makes sure you always look good and are on top of it.
Can you commit to 60 days of paying someone?
This is a non-negotiable. You cannot adequately train someone enough for them to be able to "read your mind" and really be helpful to you without investing some time in training them.
Spend some time vetting people while you are hiring so you know it's a great values fit first, and then focus on getting them trained. This is the kind of onvestment that pays off in dividends and lets them grow with your needs.
Have you tracked your tasks and written out your processes?
The first step to being able to hand off admin activities is to write them down.
If you haven't created a guide that catalogs all of your processes, now is the time to make sure you've got what you need to be successful with an assistant ready when the time comes. You can get our free guide that will walk you through that process here.
Are there portions of income producing tasks that could be outsourced?
This is one of the most valuable questions you can ask yourself in your business, because if you can systematize your lead generation, follow up, and more, you can keep a consistent pipeline without having to constantly be worrying about whether or not Salesforce is up to date, if you've spent enough time researchign your leads, and more. A sales-minded assistant can easily handle these tasks with email scraping tools, the right CRM training, and a little direction.
If you find yourself answering yes to more than two of these questions, it's time to start seriously considering where you can save yourself time. By giving yourself the bandwidth to keep moving your business on to that next stage, you're making space for growth, profit, and opportunity.