Why Doesn’t Every Business Leader Have an Administrative Assistant?
I have a question for you this week: Why doesn’t every business leader have a terrific administrative assistant? I honestly don’t understand this. We coordinate over 20 peer group meetings a year, and it’s amazing how difficult it often is in order to prepare ourselves and the group for their upcoming meetings. We get late paperwork, incomplete stuff, etc. Or even some people that don’t send us things at all, without constant reminders.
We have people calling it the last minute and say, what airport, what city are we going to be in, what’s the hotel accommodation? There’s a lot of disorganization. I mean, our clients are super successful and yet they’re still booking their own airfare. They’re still booking their own hotels. They’re still collating their basic financial information that anybody could collate for them.
On the other hand, we can always tell which of our clients have administrative assistants. Everything that comes from them is always super organized. It’s correct the first time we get it. There are no mistakes. There’s no omission of information. It’s all there. Administrative assistants handle all those details for the shop owners. Things are quick and complete, and having everything done efficiently takes all of the worry and anxiety and additional tasks off those shop owners’ plates. It frees up their time to do things that are going to benefit the business.
So why don’t all successful business leaders have an administrative assistant? I think there are several answers:
The first thing is thrift. Most business leaders tend to be thrifty to the point of being skinflints, it seems. They just can’t fathom the extravagance of a $35k or $40k per year employee on the payroll.
Many family business leaders overestimate their ability to manage details. Some of the most disorganized, harebrained people I’ve ever seen, if you say, “You know, you really need help with your organization,” their first response is “What? I’m organized.” I suppose it probably takes an organized person to spot a disorganized person. But then again, as an administrative professional myself, I’m pretty organized, and when I see disorganization it kind of makes my head spin. So, I think people really overestimate their ability to handle all the details and tasks that they have to deal with in the course of a day.
And then the third reason I think most people don’t have administrative assistants is because they’ve never had one in the past. It’s the old “we’ve always done it this way” answer. Dad never had one. Granddad never had one. So why does this generation need the extravagance of administrative assistants?
So here’s a challenge for you: Why not try it? Create a job description for an administrative assistant. Suppose you hired an administrative assistant for three months or six months. What’s the real cost of trying this experiment? Let’s say the person cost you $3,000 a month, even $4,000 a month. Well, for three months, in 90 days you’re going to know whether it works or not. Guess what? You just blew $9,000 if it’s a bad experiment, maybe $12,000, and a little of your time.
Because look – most of you have wasted a whole lot more money than that on projects before. So, you know, it’s really not that great of a risk for you. If you can free up your mental time and energy and delegate all these details about managing your day to day life, think about how much time you would free up for the benefit of your business, and just as importantly, for the benefit of your family. Maybe you could get home for dinner. That’s not so bad.
So, try the administrative assistant experiment. Let me know how it turns out. I’ll be looking forward to hearing your comments.