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When to Hire an Assistant

karen rittenhouse
3 min read
When to Hire an Assistant

Have you found yourself caught in that mental ping pong yet:

“I need to hire some help. But I can’t afford to hire help. But I can’t get everything done on my own. But it would cost too much bring someone in. I mean, I can’t afford to pay…”

As your business grows, you find yourself becoming busier and busier.

Question: At what point should you consider delegating some of the day to day office details to some sort of hired assistant?

Answer: When you get to the point where you’re overwhelmed – or overloaded – or there’s something in your business that you Just-Don’t-Want-To-Do…, it’s time to look outside yourself and hire an assistant.

The first time you run into this should-I-shouldn’t-I-hire scenario, it feels hugely overwhelming and most people wait longer than they should to bring in their first assistant. Be aware, it slows you down in the short term to train an employee, so don’t wait until you’re totally covered up or you won’t find the time necessary to spend training them!

As your business continues to grow, the second and third hires are easier to justify and happen much faster.

When and whom to hire varies, naturally, with each business. It depends greatly on where you’re headed and the results you want. Maybe it’s time to notice that you’ve already created the business you want so it’s time to stop growing and start slowing.

If, however, you want to grow, there comes a point when the business outgrows a single operator. Celebrate!

For us, the first person we hired was a bookkeeper. I HATE bookkeeping (even signed up for accounting classes at a local community college until I came to my senses). I finally recognized that some people love bookkeeping and I should be paying them to do mine. Bookkeeping, as vital as it is to your company, generates NO income, so hiring a bookkeeper will free up your time to do more income producing activities like negotiating with sellers.

The second person we hired was someone to help with property management. At that time, we had close to 30 properties and I was overwhelmed with the day to day dealing with tenants and rent collection. Dealing with tenants was my second biggest pain point so that’s where I wanted relief. Letting someone else be the buffer between me and the tenant calls, filing, and going to court made me a much happier person (and much more pleasant to be around). First, look for ways a new hire can relieve your pain points.

Next, evaluate where it is in the business that you generate income. Those are the positions you personally hold onto the longest. Typically, you generate no income swinging a hammer or wielding a paint brush. Pay someone to do the manual labor so you can be out finding and negotiating deals.

THAT’s where your income is created.

Related: BP Radio Podcast 002: Starting Out with Karen Rittenhouse – Subject To, Direct Mail, and Investing from a Woman’s Perspective

Some people recommend outsourcing as a way to save yourself time and aggravation. Rather than bringing someone into your office to assist you, offload some of your work to companies set up to handle it. As an example, after the first year or so of chasing down deals, we began to outsource our marketing so the calls came to us (big time saver). And, with out direct mail marketing, we created a set-it-and-forget-it approach. We paid for a year’s worth of postcards in January and scheduled our mailings 12 months out so we only had to think about direct mail marketing and prepare it once a year. HUGE time saver.

If you’re currently thinking about hiring someone to help with the load, why not? Bring in a part time person and, if it doesn’t work out, you can easily stop using them. If you increase your business because of an assistant (which is what should happen), you can afford to pay for more hours or additional help. By the way, when you pay an employee, rule of thumb is that they should generate three times more income than what they cost.

Should you hire? Think about this: if your business is totally dependent upon you, you can’t get away. We just went on vacation for 15 days and our business ran flawlessly without us. There’s a lot to be said for being dispensable….

When you begin to anguish about spending the money for office help, what you’re feeling are growing pains. CONGRATULATIONS! Your business is so successful that you need help. I say go for it and let us know how it works out.

Note By BiggerPockets: These are opinions written by the author and do not necessarily represent the opinions of BiggerPockets.