Business Notes: Knowing when something is not working – thoughts on hiring my first assistant


My temporary assistant for one of my businesses, my recruitment website, has finished has term as he worked for me for 5 weeks.

The key objective of me having my assistant was to increase the number of affiliate sign ups to my affiliate partner for my recruitment partner.

This objective was not reached, and it was not sucessful. Affiliate sales for January 2012 was £21 that he generated, while his salary was 800,000 TZS (£313).

That means my investment on this assistant lost £292 on my investment.

What I have learned

  • Trust my instinct: I could see within 2 weeks of him working that he did not have what it took to generate the high sales number I wanted. There were problems with my website but he told me he could generate at least 10 leads per day, and he did not even manage 10 in a single day even when the website was working.
  • Always find the right people: Finding the right people is the most difficult part of doing any business enterprise. It’s not that he was bad, and at times he did show flashes of brilliance in terms of working hard but he just did not bring the standard I need in terms of the affiliate sales.
  • It might be time to move on: I have a marketing business, and I remember reading something Tyler Perry said in a video recently that it is important to pick one thing and focus on it completely. I think I might close the website soon because I simply do not have the money to throw at it if it won’t provide dividends for me.

Number one lesson I have learned: Being focused is the most central things. Jack of all trades – master of none. I think it’s time to move on. It’s sad but it has taken me this assistant to know that my recruitment website is not a business.

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6 thoughts on “Business Notes: Knowing when something is not working – thoughts on hiring my first assistant

  1. Let me play the devils advocate and see it a little differently. In business school they teach you that an investment does not materialize immediately. Very few do. So its a little harsh to judge the Assistant on his first month at work since a month is not even enough to learn the ropes of a job or company. It typically takes people three months to get comfortable with what they do. If you hired a consultant/expert, only then can you expect the output you wanted. Some of the big names out there in business took years of losses before they broke even let alone make a profit. As long as they had set goals, strongly believed in what they did and worked tirelessly to achieve these goals.

    However, I guess you know your goals and business best so this might be the right decision for you. Its good to see young women want to become business owners. Good luck!

    • Hi Lola, thanks for your comment. I think it’s because he said he could hit quite small basic goals which he did not hit, so that’s why I pulled the plug, though he was only contracted to work for 5 weeks which he did. I think he did an okay job, but it could have been better. I do take responsibility for that as well.

  2. I think both of you have valid points. I would like to add that sometimes with businesses you learn what works and what doesn’t work. Although this assistant didn’t work out the way you wanted him too you now have an idea of what to look for next time around. Just take this as a learning experience “we lose some and we gain some”.

  3. As a entrepreneur as well, I’m just about to the point where I’m ready to hire my first intern. I have major reservations about diving into this mostly because of what you described above. What if they cause me more work and headache in the end? What if we don’t mesh well? I think you’re right in relying on your instincts and if somethings not working don’t be afraid to fix it immediately.

    • Thanks for your comment, Stephanie. I think there is a lot to be said for quitting while you are ahead when something is blatantly not working.

      My assistant did not work the way I wanted it to work.

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