For years, I resisted the idea of having an assistant at MarketBeat due to my middle-class mindset. I finally hired an assistant two months ago and that decision has forever benefited my ability to get work done and spend more time with my family.
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Prefer to read instead of watch? Here’s a rough script I used for this video.
Hey guys, Matthew Paulson here. In this video I want to talk about how hiring an executive assistant has impacted my business and my personal life. For the last year or two, I’ve wondered what it would look like to have an assistant at MarketBeat that could help me some of the stuff that either I’m not very good at or just isn’t a high-value task for me to get around to doing. For quite a while, I was really hesitant about going out an hiring an assistant, because not very many executives in South Dakota have assistants and South Dakotans tend to pride themselves on doing work themselves. I wouldn’t want people to think “Who do you think you are that you need someone else to follow you around and do all of the stuff that you don’t want to do or have time to do?” And, this was a real hang-up for me. My wife and I both grew up in middle-class families and were just used to doing everything ourselves. My wife and I raise our kids. We don’t do daycare or a lot of baby sitters, so when our kids aren’t at school or therapy, they’re at home and we’re the ones changing diapers, doing snacks and cleaning up messes. We’re used to rolling up our sleeves and working. Who was I to think that I needed a personal or executive assistant? Am I just being lazy by wanting an assistant to do stuff for me? I just I’m just a guy that’s ten years out of college that’s running a small but profitable business in Sioux Falls, SD. Why do I need an assistant? These hangups stopped me in my tracks from hiring an assistant for quite a long time, but a couple of things changed my mind.
First, there are some tasks that cost me money if I do them myself. Based on the revenue that MarketBeat has generated in the last 12 months, my work time is probably worth between $1,500 and $2,000 an hour, so there are tasks that need to be done in MarketBeat and in my personal life that are relatively low dollar per hour tasks that if I do them, it’s actually cost me money. For example, answering customer support messages is probably a $20.00 to $30.00 an hour work task, so if I’m answering emails from our customers and resetting their passwords and setting up their stock watchlists, I’m not focusing on the high-value business strategy, marketing and optimization tasks that make my time worth $1,500 to $20,00 an hour. I had been able to delegate most of the lower-dollar-per-hour tasks such as booking advertising campaigns, doing software development and customer service to my other employees over the last couple of years. In terms of MarketBeat tasks, we were pretty set there. However, all of the non-MarketBeat stuff I do was also sucking up my time preventing me from doing the high dollar per hour tasks that grow the company. So I finally realized that if I had someone to help with some of the blocking and tackling on Startup Sioux Fall, Falls Angel Fund, 1 Million Cups and some of the tasks in my personal life, I would have more time to work on MarketBeat and would actually make more money.
The second reason I finally got over my hangups about having an assistant is that I realized that having an assistant would allow me be able to be more effective and get more done in some of the startup community and volunteer roles that I have in the community. For example, we are in the process of launching a second Falls Angel Fund and we need to have an informational reception for members of our first fund and potential members of our second fund. I also wanted to start doing events about every other month for Startup Sioux Falls, but, I’m definitely not the person that should be doing the leg work to plan events. I’m not good at event planning and it’s also not a good financial use of my time. If I had an assistant that was really good at taking care of details, doing research, making phone calls, etc., they could plan these events for me and I could just show up and be the stage guy without having to worry about the small details needed to make that event happen.
I did end up hiring an assistant in the end of May and it actually came about because I needed to fill another position, which was a half-time customer support position. I really wanted to make it a full-time job, because I wanted to have someone on staff that was fully committed to MarketBeat and wasn’t trying to juggle two part-time jobs. So I came up with the idea of having someone do customer service emails for MarketBeat in the mornings and doing executive assistant work for me in the afternoons. I wrote up a job description and never put it out publicly, but did email it to a few people that I thought would be good candidates as a first step. One of those people was Maureen Ohm. She had previously helped with 1 Million Cups and she was the one that kept our group organized, so I really knew what I was getting when I hired her. I’ve been very happy with what Maureen’s been able to help me with so far and she’s doing a fantastic job.
One of the things that was a challenge for me was figuring out what kind of tasks she could do to free up my time and make my life easier. Traditionally, an assistant will manage someone’s calendar, email and do some administrative tasks around the office. The problem is I like to schedule my own meetings, answer my own email and our company doesn’t really have an office. So, when I hired her, I told her it would probably take us both a few months to figure out the type of stuff she could do to add value to MarketBeat and free up my time and that it was okay if she wasn’t keeping fully busy during the workday for the first couple of months. The permission for both of us to take time to figure out how to work best together was really helpful because it gave us time to organically figure out what would be the best use of Maureen’s time in the business. Her first task was learning how to do customer service since that was half of her job, which she picked up really quickly. We also figured out it made a lot of sense for her to do my daily social media postings, so when you see me share something on Facebook for, there’s a pretty good chance it was actually Maureen sharing it. Maureen’s also in charge of keeping the downtown office in order, so she gets groceries, vacuums every now and then and buys anything I think I need for the office. Last week, I told her I needed a doorstop because I had been using a diet mountain dew bottle as a doorstop and it kept falling over, so she actually went down to the quarry in Sioux Falls and got a piece of Sioux Quartzite that is my new doorstop. Maureen has also been doing some event planning for me. She’s taking the lead on the September Startup Sioux Falls event, our Falls Angel Fund reception as well as MarketBeat company gatherings. So, she had us all over for lunch last week and that was a lot of fun too. The latest thing that I’ve had her start doing is some of our day-to-day book-keeping in Quickbooks and she proactively went out and found a tutor to teach her Quickbooks without me telling her to, so I particularly impressed by that. I think she’s getting pretty close to 100% capacity, so I probably won’t pile many more tasks onto her, but Maureen’s been great as an assistant. She’s freed up a lot of my time, which has enabled me to focus on my most important tasks on Marketbeat and spend some more time with my family.
After watching this video, you’ll probably say, that’s great Matt, but I’m not a CEO that makes lots of money and I can’t afford an assistant. I get it. Most people don’t need full-time assistants, but I would encourage you to think about what are some things that you do in your life that you could delegate to someone else or outsource. There are lots of ways to free up your time without having a full-time assistant. You might consider working with a virtual assistant 5 or 10 hours per week to do social media postings for you, booking travel for you, answering your email or doing data entry. Just imagine how much time of yours would be freed up if you didn’t have to do some of the mundane tasks in your work. It even could be as simple as hiring a neighborhood teenager to mow your lawn and shovel your snow every week. Think about what tasks you do that someone else could do in your place and you may find there are things that you could delegate or outsource to someone else for less money than you think.
I think that’s about it for this video. Hopefully the journey I took from having a lot of hesitations and hangups about hiring an assistant to think I actually needed an assistant to hiring an assistant and what my assistant Maureen has done for MarketBeat and me personally has been helpful to you. I also hope that this video encourages you to think about what you might be able to outsource or delegate to free up your time for the most important people and tasks in your life as well. Thanks for watching.