I had the pleasure of meeting Tom Ewer in person at an event during World Domination Summit in 2014. Since then, he’s seen tremendous growth with his business, he’s working with writers around the world and and recently even hired someone to work alongside him in his office in Birmingham, England. I spoke with him earlier this week to talk about what he’s learned about hiring someone for an “in person” position.
The following is paraphrased from our conversation, and I highlighted the bits I liked most!
J: Why did you choose to hire an “office employee” instead of a remote worker or virtual assistant?T: I have actually been working with remote writers for quite some time, and if you can do it, working with a remote team is great. In addition to cost, a remote team can be simpler to manage because you don’t need to deal with the paperwork associated with employment.
However, there are certain jobs where most will say you would want someone local. For me, I was looking for someone who would be working closely with me on by business – someone I could communicate and talk with often, and have frequent “back and forth” conversations. For that kind of a role, it’s tough to work with a remote team-mate.
J: How did you know it was the right time for your business to consider hiring an assistant?T: Everyone seems to look for a “pivotal moment” but it doesn’t work like that. There is a time when you wouldn’t have enough work for an assistant – and a time when you’re overwhelmed. If you’re somewhere in between the two and you’re confident in your business & only see it growing in the future, you should definitely consider hiring someone to help you grow.
J: What types of tasks you’d give to someone in your office vs. someone working remotely?T: I would definitely say that it makes sense to give an in-office person jobs that are hard to train or systematize. Work that’s creative or subjective. In this case, one of my assistant’s roles will be to act as an “Editor” – someone I could literally “turn my monitor around” and ask for their thoughts and feedback.
J: How did you go about finding candidates for the position?
T: Actually I came across a local internship program where the intern’s wages will be subsidized for three months if you go through the program. It seemed like a great opportunity, so I got in touch with one of the programs, a couple CV’s came in, and the whole process was very straightforward.
Since this is local to my area, others might not have the same programs. But I’d recommend others look into University graduate programs or your own local government to see if they offer anything similar.
J: How do you coordinate with your assistant? Do you use a task manager? Email?T: For the kind of work we’re doing, it’s very much “one task at a time”.
- Do this task
- We’ll discuss how we did it
- We’ll discuss what we can learn from it
- We’ll move on to the next task.
It’s important to remember that for a new employee it’s completely overwhelming. At least for the first couple of weeks, it’s important to do the work “peace-meal” and then work towards introducing a task manager. That will help bring them on over time without over-loading them. Once they are a bit more established, I think it’s really important to start giving them autonomy and ownership over their own work.
J: If you could speak to your “past” self and give him one piece of advice on how to hire and onboard an assistant better, what would you say?T: Oh, absolutely – I’d say “Be Patient and Hire the Right Person.” It’s very tempting if you get lots and lots of applications and none of them are great, to just pick one and go with that. Now I would say don’t settle – be patient and wait until you really find the best person.
If you find the right person, they may work with you for years. The wrong person could only be days, consuming your time, energy and resources.
Thank you Tom for taking the time to chat and share your experience!
My two favorite takeaways from Tom:
- Business owners should consider growing their team before they become too overwhelmed – so you still have bandwidth to onboard someone effectively.
- “Hire the right person” – I love this. It’s very easy to convince yourself you’re being too picky or want too much, when in reality the right person just hasn’t come along quite yet.
Definitely head over to Leaving Work Behind to see how he’s continuing to grow his business and help people around the world quit their jobs by building online businesses and doing the work they care about.
Thanks again Tom!
Would you like to share your story of outsourcing, delegating or automating your business? Let me know!