Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter with her personal assistant. Image: National Archives and Records Administration Former US First Lady Rosalynn Carter with her personal assistant. Image: National Archives and Records Administration

I really cannot stress enough how indispensable an assistant is for entrepreneurs.

Time is an entrepreneur’s most valuable asset and every single minute you can free up to focus on the growth and development of your company counts. The success of it, after all, largely depends on the work you put in and your brainpower. So it’s important to learn to delegate from an early stage, so that you can really concentrate on the things you thrive doing and that will benefit your company the most in the long run. Spending an entire afternoon on flight comparison sites, trying to work out the most cost effective travel route might save you a little cash, but it certainly won’t enhance your business or profits - an assistant will.

A great assistant can completely transform your entrepreneurial experience, making it more manageable, productive and actually enjoyable from time to time. Starting and running a business will always come with stress, but minimising the stress is imperative to helping you think more clearly, make better-informed decisions and maintain enthusiasm for what you’re doing. The more you load on yourself, the more likely you are to burn out after a couple of months. And take it from someone who knows - it happens a lot.

I find people can be reluctant to hire a PA for two main reasons: first of all, they don’t have the money and second, they think they can manage without one.

So, let’s tackle the money. Granted, it is an extra expense, but I can almost guarantee it will be the most worthwhile one you’ll make. Especially when you're in the early stages of your company, you will need head space to create a vision for your company, focus on partnerships, processes, market research and product designing. If you’re spending time scanning documents, filing, and emailing back and forth to try and find a suitable time for a meeting, you’re effectively burning money. With a PA taking care of the everyday often time consuming tasks, your productivity will increase rapidly and so will your profits. So really, it’s more of an investment than a cost.

Secondly, it’s not a case of not being able to manage but rather maximising your productivity. Most of the time my mind is running at turbo speed, and it can be extremely helpful to download some of that information to someone else so they can make note and remind me when the time’s right. A PA can keep track of your to-do list so that you can rid yourself of that horrible, guilty nagging feeling we all get when we’re forgetting to do something. If you’ve forgotten, your assistant should know. They can keep track of finances too, which is absolutely vital when you’re running on a start-up budget, and need to stay informed on money coming in and going out. It can be easy to let things slide when your head is stuffed full of ideas and aspirations. An assistant is there to make sure nothing slides, so that when it comes to it, you won't have to rummage through old napkins of scrawled notes or email ten people to find out what it was you said at 3pm on the last Tuesday of March.

When you start a business or own a business, it takes over your life - it’s your baby. It’s what you think about more than anything, all day, every day - but it doesn't mean the rest of your life comes to a stand still. Family, friends, bills, insurance, continue to exist and cannot be ignored otherwise you’ll find yourself with not just an angry taxman, but also an angry wife (unsure about which one is scarier!). An assistant can help you keep the rest of your world, not just the business, running smoothly; whether it’s buying birthday presents, looking after your emails and calls whilst you attend your kid’s school concert or planning a party. They’re there to make everything easier and you happier, which is better for health, relationships and ultimately, your business.

I’m pretty sure most people don’t start a business to fill their lives with more administration, but that’s inevitably what happens if you don’t get someone else to take care of it for you. Start leading your company, instead of letting it lead you into a admin filled rut.

By Richard Walton, founder of AVirtual