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You may not be able to buy happiness, but you can buy time, and in my book. that is just a hop, skip, and a jump from happiness and freedom. As a founder and CEO — heck, as a human — time is really all I have. And what better way to invest your money than into a person who will help you get time back in your day, give them an opportunity for income and career growth and help your team, business and life thrive?
Not to mention — if we’re being honest — how many things are entrepreneurs and real estate professionals really good at? Probably about five: creating and casting the vision, putting the right people in the right seats, brokering real estate deals, building lasting relationships, and solving complex problems to keep the company and its clients on track. That’s it.
The rest? Most leaders and agents are going to delegate those tasks out as quickly as possible or just not do them at all.
Enter the administrative and operational wizards who will make up your support staff.
Everyone knows that real estate agents who truly want to grow their careers and businesses can’t do it alone. Starting with one key hire in the form of a real estate assistant will give you incredible leverage and should lead to significant growth — if you hire the right person and invest time into properly onboarding and training them. Here are some tips on how to do it right.
Get clear on who you are and who you are looking for
The first step to hiring a high-impact assistant is being very honest with yourself about who you are.
- Are you a visionary, an operator or a solopreneur who just needs some help?
- Do you want to build a business or keep your team small?
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- How do you like to work?
You will need to be very clear with yourself about what you want to find the support staff who will complement your strengths and mitigate your weaknesses.
The next step in finding the right assistant is being very clear on who you are looking to partner with. Depending on where you are in your real estate business, you may be looking for a personal assistant, an executive assistant, a marketing assistant, an operations coordinator or a COO.
Get clear on what you’re hiring for before you spend time recruiting and interviewing. No sense in wasting your time or theirs.
Beyond just the job title and description, get clear on the type of assistant you would work best with. Do you want someone who is just as entrepreneurial as you? Do you want them to take action without asking? Or do you prefer someone to wait for your direction? Do you want them to be strongest in marketing, administrative, operational or executive support skills?
Although there are some fundamentals that I encourage all leaders to look for in an assistant (leadership, organization, detail-orientation and exceptional communication skills), the rest is very subjective based on the size of your team, your work preferences, and the vision for yourself and your organization. The main point here is to get clear for yourself before you start the search.
Be talent to attract talent
You’re looking for top talent, right? High performers and high achievers want to be surrounded by other high performers and high achievers. Assistants who are at the top of their game are leaders in their own right. They are going to need a very strong leader and someone with a compelling vision to continue on their career trajectory.
If assistants don’t align themselves with a leader with a strong vision who’s driven to succeed, it’s just not going to be the right fit for these high-impact assistants.
So, the question is: Are you top talent? Who do you have to be to attract talent at the level you want to? As an entrepreneur, you are the brand, so be conscious and careful about what you’re putting out into the universe. Perception is reality.
What are you doing every day to cause others to want to be led by you? How are you increasing your leadership lid daily? If you don’t have a personal and professional development plan in place, create one (books, journaling, fitness routine, meditation, conferences, etc.)
The level of talent you attract is going to be a direct reflection of what kind of leader you are. You must lead yourself first before anyone else will follow. This is particularly true for top assistants.
Because an assistant’s success is so closely tied to the success of their agent or leader, the leader must be consistently communicating the vision, mission and values to catch the attention of a talented assistant.
Always be recruiting
If you’re not already, start paying attention to your brand. Your brand includes everything from what you wear for speaking engagements to your social media presence, your logo, your website, the language you use in your blog, your job ads and the charities that you choose to donate to. Yes, it all matters.
Building your brand takes time, but it is one of the best ways to attract talent. With a clear message and brand, prospective candidates don’t have to guess about whether your company would be the right fit; it’s all just out there.
Again, this is doubly important when we’re talking about looking for your assistant. You want them to know what they are getting into. Better yet, you only want applicants who are down with your idiosyncrasies. Top candidates will be looking. They will want to interview you just as much as you plan to interview them.
Ask all of your contacts (and strangers) whether they know anyone who’s up to the challenge of joining you on your entrepreneurial journey. Share exactly who you are looking for. Share your company’s culture. Share your organization’s successes and failures. Tell the story, tell the story, tell the story. The right people will start showing up.
Be slow to hire
Every time someone tells me they need to hire an assistant, I tell them to get started right away. They may not be planning to make a hire for a year or more, but it can sometimes take that long (depending on how much time you are committing to the search).
You will want to interview a lot of people to really understand if they meet the characteristics above. Have your candidates take behavior assessments, shadow you for a day or week and complete mock assignments to gauge their skills.
I’m also a fan of the group interview in the final stages of the interview process to get another perspective on the candidate you may have missed while getting to know them.
This is an important partnership, and you should both do your due diligence. Better to take your time and make sure it is the right fit than to rush into hiring someone out of pain.
In the first 90 days alone, you will be spending a lot of time investing in this individual’s growth and training. Make sure it’s truly someone worth investing your time in.
As mentioned above, attracting talent to you through clearly casting the vision and telling your story is, in my opinion, the best way to find and hire talent. They are already bought into what you’re building and want to be a part of it.
Getting referrals from your network of trusted colleagues, current high-performing agents or staff members, or other business partners is probably my second preferred way of finding talent. Other great options include industry networking events, traditional job boards and LinkedIn.
Cast a wide net, be clear on who you are and who you are looking for, and take your time interviewing candidates. Your assistant is a critical hire. Slow down the process so that you can speed up the growth of your career or business.
Adam Hergenrother is the founder and CEO of Livian, the author of The Founder & The Force Multiplier, and the host of the podcast, Business Meets Spirituality. Learn more about Adam’s companies and culture here.