Today’s featured article on executive assistants comes from Ryan Westwood, CEO of Simplus, author, speaker, and experienced entrepreneur.
As an entrepreneur, you put a great deal of thought in surrounding yourself with talented and dynamic people who add to the success of your business endeavors. Yet there is one position often overlooked by the most ambitious and successful entrepreneurs. No, it isn’t your VP or manager. It is your executive assistant.
I’m not referring to someone who spends the day merely opening mail, pouring coffee, and answering the phone. I am talking about an individual who, if well placed, can enhance your productivity and brand ten-fold by compensating for weaknesses, enhancing professionalism, expanding productivity, and increasing the organization of your company.
While some entrepreneurs utilize current software or mobile devices to help with their administrative tasks, nothing compares to the benefits of a skilled executive assistant. Here are 4 reasons why hiring an executive assistant is a great idea.
1. A skilled executive assistant complements your weaknesses.
While most entrepreneurs prefer not to dwell on their weaknesses, an awareness of areas that may affect productivity and profitability can be an asset when hiring an executive assistant. One of my weaknesses is handling emails and written correspondence in a timely manner. My executive assistant is excellent at handling communications and following up on my emails. By providing her with the information needed to handle my correspondence, my time is available to address other things.
If time management isn’t your strong point, an EA can make sure you stay on task by enforcing time limits on meetings or making sure you don’t miss out on important phone calls or appointments. As Issie Laposky writes in her January 2014 article for Inc. Magazine called, The Most Important Person In Your Office Isn’t Who You Think., “A good assistant keeps a business owner on time and in the know. It’s an assistant’s job to make the CEO look good.”
2. The prestige factor.
The abilities and contributions of your team often determine the overall outcome of your project.
An effective executive assistant helps promote your brand by adding another level of professionalism. Do you answer your own phone calls? Do you schedule your own appointments? If so, you could be missing out on opportunities that were withheld simply because a client wasn’t willing to take you seriously.
I have secured a number of contacts because I assigned my EA to the task of contacting the desired client. I credit her professional demeanor and efficiency during those initial contacts in clinching those deals.
I also make it a habit to refer peers or clients to my executive assistant to schedule meetings or appointments. Some may be put off by this dialogue. But what they need to understand is that I’m not blowing them off or disregarding them. Instead, I value their information or time enough to be sure they are not forgotten amid other tasks.
An unexpected benefit of hiring my executive assistant was discovering how people began to respect my time when they needed to work with an executive assistant. If a person is willing to work through my executive assistant for a desired contact, they must feel their matter is important. Previously, when they had direct access to me, they didn’t always take my time and busy schedule into consideration.
This person represents you. The way she conducts herself is a direct reflection of you and your business brand. A professional, friendly, intelligent EA not only enhances the day-to-day function of your office, but also adds value to your business’s image.
3. A strong EA expands productivity.
Since hiring my EA, my commute has been transformed for the better. By letting go of the need to control everything, I have allowed my executive assistant to do her job, which is enabling me to do mine. This person has become a literal extension of me. By scheduling daily meetings, I can be sure she is informed of current events, and we can sync needed information for the day’s tasks. While she handles the details of smaller tasks, I can focus on the bigger projects that may impact the company in important ways.
“It’s all about learning each other’s intricacies and learning what makes them tick,” writes Lapowski. “And after trust, you need respect on both sides. It’s crucial, because it’s really a partnership if it’s done right.”
4. Organization increases with a skilled EA.
A proficient EA takes on a variety of roles at any given moment. She handles correspondence, emails, tasks, time management, travel plans, reservations, and scheduling, among other things. My EA also keeps track of my work mileage. When my EA does her job correctly, my workload feels the positive effects. Her job responsibilities are an essential part of the overall success of this business; therefore, my executive assistant is an important member of my executive management team.
“They are the backbone of an organization,” writes Issie Lapowski. “They know everything about an executive. It’s not just administrative work. They know what the executive needs, how they think, and they know without having to ask them what they need to do in order to make that executive better.”
As many of my colleagues rack up 80 to 100 hours in a work week in an attempt to run their companies, some still find it difficult to justify the overhead expense of bringing an executive assistant onboard. As for me, as I consider the strengths, the professionalism, the productivity, and the organizational skills a qualified executive assistant contributes to a management team, I cannot see how I could afford NOT to have my executive assistant on my team.
You can find Ryan Westwood’s original article on Forbes.