You are probably looking for the wrong type of personal assistant

As a business owner, hiring a personal assistant is one of the best things you can do to maximize your time and focus on the bigger picture. In my more than 25 years of business coaching, I have seen so many business owners drive the growth of their business by having someone take things off their plates. But not all personal assistants are created equal. Some can even make you lose momentum and do more work instead of less. So today I want to review the different types of personal assistants and discuss which ones are best for you as a business owner.

The first type of personal assistant is what I would call a gopher. You don’t want a gopher. A gopher is someone you have to tell him every little thing. Move this file from here to here. Save this document and name it XYZ. It’s really just an open invitation to the unpopular world of micromanaging. If you’re interested in growth, you’re not looking for a gopher.

The second type of assistant would be the person I would consider an administrative assistant. And is what most entrepreneurs think they need. But again, I don’t think this is the right choice for most entrepreneurs. An administrative assistant is able to perform clearly defined, concrete tasks. That is usually not enough for a growing business. Why? As an entrepreneur, nothing is ever clearly defined. There will always be some degree of ambiguity, and an administrator is often unable to deal with that level of uncertainty. They just feel uncomfortable with it.

The third type of assistant is the executive assistant and is the one I recommend for most of my business coaching clients. This type of person is really very skilled and in most administrative positions they can handle it easily. Even if you give them an ambiguous thing that requires some research or more complicated execution. For example, my executive assistant recently noticed that Amazon had removed one of my books for some reason. She took it upon herself to investigate the problem and come up with a solution to get the book back on digital shelves. And she’s better at it than I am at this sort of thing. She has more patience and more perseverance with that sort of thing. And knowing I can trust her frees me up to focus on the things that matter most in my business.

For some of you, especially if you run a larger business, you may need someone with more competence. That’s where the fourth type of assistant, a chief of staff, comes into play. This would be someone a bit like your personal COO. This person is probably better at execution in the business world than you are, but they want to play a secondary role and they will help you get where you need to be. In general, a position of chief of staff becomes vacant when you find someone at a lower level to promote who can grow into that role. Essentially an executive assistant who has been with you long enough to know the ins and outs of your business and willing to take on more responsibility. My chief of staff began his career as an executive assistant and now performs most of the day-to-day activities within my company.

So if you are looking for a personal assistant, I suggest you look at your needs and hire the right person(s) for the job. Because in most cases a gopher or administrative assistant will just be more work in the long run while an executive assistant or chief of staff can help you excel and scale your business.

The opinions expressed here by columnists are their own, not’s.