How do I hire someone to tell me what to do? (Serious inquiry)

Sigh… when all else fails, trust in the Dope. I turn to you all in desperation.

I own a small internet business (hey! I heard that! Cool it!) and my partner and I have an awful lot on our plates. Neither one of us is particularly good at:

making order from chaos
setting goals
breaking down tasks
organizing
prioritizing and creating strategies for getting to the priorities.

I want to hire someone on either a part time permanent basis or find someone who freelances at organizing small businesses the way people freelance at organizing closets. (Maybe that’s just an LA thing…)

I kinda need a keeper.

We also need someone to help with the work itself. I need to be freed up from some of the mundane clerical and bookkeeping tasks to focus my energies on promotions, etc.

But I don’t know how to even go about finding someone who can really help me. I don’t want a seminar on how to orgqanize my business, I can read a book for that. I need * personalized attention *. I need to show someone gifted and able exactly what my work life consists of, and get them to help me find away to get it all done.

So…anyone have any brilliant ideas? I’m in Los Angeles, and I swear there oughta be some kind of consulting business that does exactly this sort of thing. (Without charging ungodly sums for it)

Help! Help!

The place I’ve heard about but never used is called SCORE, which spells something about retired buisnessmen. Try your local phone book.

Ok, I had to try to locate the web site.

It’s here: http://www.score.org/

They say they can do some help by email.

Ok Stoid.

Take it or leave it…

But in the interest of trying to change you into a greedy capitalist, I will offer you my experience.:slight_smile:
I’m a very small business man.

I started when I was 20. I had a partner and we did all the work ourselves. Over the last (almost)8 years, we have built up to an office, secretary and about 20 (seasonal)workers.(March-November)

I don’t have any clue what kind of business you are in, so these will all be vague suggestions regarding employees and organizing.

[li] No matter what you hear, read or think, you will make ALL of the mistakes that you get warned about. Just try to remember the advice you got, so that you repeat them as few times as possible.[/li]
[li] I’ve found that the stuff you consider so vital and important in the beginning, usually turns out to be easily and cheaply reproduced in the end. The quicker you are able to remove yourself from the actual mechanics, the quicker you will be able to focus your energy on planning and setting goals.[/li]
[li] I don’t care what the business is, once you are running it, you have a skill that is transferable to thousands of other businesses. The skills required to do the labor part of the company have nothing to do with running the company. Being an owner is different than being an employee. The quicker you get comfortable with that, the sooner you can grow your company.[/li]
[li] It sounds to me like you are looking for an impossible employee. IMHO you will never find someone to fulfill the role you are looking for. The kind of person you are describing would just run their own company.[/li]
I see three workable alternatives to your proposal.

[1] Find a partner. From your description, you are looking for an owner type of person. Find someone who has the strengths you are looking for, yet needs something that you bring to the table. From your job description, I don’t see why anyone who fits that mold would EVER work for someone else, but they might work with someone else.

[2] Bite the bullet. Take a pay cut and hire someone to do the work you do now. Basically, you need to promote yourself out of a job. Make your job soley to grow the company. This isn’t an overnight step, it should take years. Task by task, hire PEOPLE to take over YOUR role. Spend your extra time figuring out ways to bring in more volume/expand.

If you have a valid business model, then you should be able to expand consistently if you put your mind to it. It takes a lot more work to figure out how to grow than it does to to do the actual work.

Sometimes a partner will provide a safety net here. If you get bogged down in the day to day workings of the company, somebody needs to shake things up and provide some vision.

If your business model isn’t valid for growth, then you will be doing all the work yourself, and hiring employees will “break the bank.” There is nothing wrong with this if you end up at a level that you are happy and satisfied with. There is alot of room between the homeless guy on the street and Bill Gates. Only the individual can decide when they are happy with where they are. If you feel like you have just too much work to do, and are not making enough money, then raise your prices until things balance out.

[3] Hire a consultant to convince you that options A and B are unavoidable if you want to grow.

[li]The standard employee advice:[/li]
Don’t hire friends. Don’t be afraid to cut your losses and fire someone when you realize they are costing you money. Don’t hire the first person you interview. Don’t become to close to your employees. Don’t overpay them.[sub]Check out what your position is paying at other companies to compare[/sub]Don’t trust them with your money. Hire an accountant when your company hits $200,000 gross revenues.

I know that isn’t the pat answer you were asking for, but based on my experience, that is the best answer I can offer.
I hope it helps.

::looking around to see if there is a full moon out tonight::

Sounds like what you want is what they call a “lifestyle consultant.” This is a new category of personal assistant with a bit of training in psychology, business, etc. They’re supposed to help you get your act together, regardless of what your act is. The problems you have don’t seem to be specifically business related, but mostly personal organization and prioritization issues. Just like all businessmen.

you might want to check out a personal coach http://www.coachingtips.com/

don’t forget to try some software. I have Smart Business Plan software, its for that sort of thing but I haven’t used it so I can’t comment on it. Im sure you can find a computer store in LA for that. Also ask one of the temp job agencies.

When my mother worked at Marriott World HQ as an executive secretary this is essentially what she did for her boss, with the exception of “goal setting”. It really sounds like what you need is a simply a successful, intelligent business executive, with good organizational skills, on a semi-temporary basis.

A good source for these type of people are women who have left high powered careers to have children, and now that the children are in school during the day, are contemplating going back into the workforce on a temporary basis or retired executives. There’s a lot a experienced, high powered talent out there looking for flexible hours. It could be a win-win. Ask your local chamber of commerce or college business school if they have any contacts like this. An executive headhunter might also have some suggestions and/or contacts.

As an aside here is a link to INC magazines page(s) of advice by successful business executives about the biggest mistakes they made. 32 stories and instructive reading. Also some good advice on business basics.

http://www.inc.com/guide/item/0,,GDE88,00.html
"My Biggest Mistake: Analyzing the Archives
By Lisa Chadderdon

Since April 1998, Inc. magazine has asked business leaders to share their biggest mistakes. We’ve analyzed the 32 My Biggest Mistake articles published through February 2001 to develop an early warning system for business owners. The mistakes fall into seven categories. Proceed directly to the category that’s your weakness or read all seven parts for a well-rounded education.
Business Strategy
Customer Relations
Expansion
Financial
Human Resources
Marketing
Personal Regrets"

etc

Here is another link for inc that may be of interest
They have a (appears) free message board specifically targeting your area of interest.

“Find peer advisers, customers, and suppliers in our Biz-to-Biz Directory.”

http://www.incmagazine.com/

http://www.inc.com/bizcard/directory/0,3352,2,00.html

I am acquainted with a “Venture Coach,” who may be able to help you. He’s Boston-based, but I think he mostly works over the Net anyway. I have not used his services, but he seems pretty competent from casual conversation. Good luck!

Stoid, we talked awhile back about your biz; hope it’s going well.

My advice: don’t get a consultant and don’t get somebody part-time. You have a problem that won’t be solved by advice; it needs to be solved by a full-time committed body. It sounds like what you want is either a) an admin or b) a project manager.

Of course, hiring a full-time person has cash-flow implications, so you want to be sure you’re up to the commitment. The type of skill-set you’re describing should be able to add a lot of value to your business and I imagine that they will add a lot more revenue than they’ll burn.

If you were in the Bay Area, I could turn you on to actual candidates, but I can’t really help in L.A. I suggest posting on a job site. You should take some time and think up all of the responsibilities you want this person to handle. Take the time to interview carefully.

As a side note, a friend had a business very similar to yours in size and function. He had the identical problem you’re facing. He and his employees were very creative and hard-working, but weren’t detail-capable. My friend was aware of this limitation, but did nothing to fix it. I say he “had a business” because he folded last week. Broke his heart. He had plenty of business, but couldn’t keep loose ends together. It’s wise you see this problem in your business; be sure you don’t ignore it and hope it goes away.