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How to Hire Your First Assistant to Increase Your Business and Keep Your Sanity


This didn’t start out to be a blog, it was some instruction to one of our Diamond Package owners on how to place an ad for an assistant.  By the time I got to the instruction, it was looking like it was something all health coaches may find valuable – so here you are.

It started out as instruction for an ad for Craig’s list.

First get your list together.  This list should consist of the jobs that need to be done to run your business on a day to day basis.  Then, go back over the list and pick out the jobs that you enjoy doing, do well and must do.  The rest of the jobs makeup the list of tasks or duties you will be hiring someone to complete for you and your business.  You may not be able to immediately budget in someone for the entire list, but it’s a good place to start and a list to aspire to.

I imagine someone 8 – 20 hours a week might even be enough for you when you’re first getting started….once you get busier you could increase their hours. If you have a home based business and have tasks around the house you need help with – you could even include that in the job description. Before you begin to interview, you will want the list of daily activity put together so you know they are capable of helping.

The interview process should be in 5 steps –

  1. The advertisement – make sure it sells the job.  Tell them the features and benefits.  Who should apply and what is in it for them
  2. Reading the resumes
  3. Interviewing on the phone
  4. Interviewing in person
  5. The Hire

The Advertisement

I used to pay $150-300 per advertisement for new hire.  Those days are gone.  Thanks to Facebook and Craig’s List…it’s free.  I’ve hired from both.

Here’s an ad I think will work for you regardless of what you decide those daily duties should be:

PART TIME – Perfect for student or new college graduate

Administrative Assistant for expanding small health and wellness business.

Rate of Pay – $12 per hour to start – negotiable on experience

FLEXIBLE HOURS – Pick your hours!  Any time between 9 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., 10-20 hours per week depending on work load.

This is a new position as a personal and business assistant to a health coach team expanding our business.   Thankfully our business has enjoyed incredible growth and we need help to keep up.  There are many different tasks and they will vary from day to day. There is a great deal of growth potential AND unlimited learning potential.
This is a perfect opportunity to get experience in a large number of business facets. There may be filing, phone calls, document creation, advertising, light bookkeeping, marketing or even running errands. As long as you are open to diversity and are willing to do just about any type of work, this is a great spot for you.

We are looking for someone reliable, responsible, an excellent communicator and self driven and can work on your own.

Skills Requested

Microsoft Excel, PowerPoint, Word
Adobe Acrobat
Social Media
Customer Service

Skills not necessary but big plus

Marketing, graphic design
Project Management

VERY IMPORTANT – to be considered for this position, submit your resume and a short statement – why I would be right for this position.

Google and see what the going rate for an administrative assistant is in your location.  The location is important, the standard wages can differ by as much as $10 per hour – for a full time job, that’s $20,800 a year.  If you offer under the going rate, you may not get any applicants – or maybe just the ones who couldn’t be hired elsewhere.  If you offer too much – you’ll be wasting money and if you offer just right…you’ll get the cream of the crop.  That’s what you want – someone who will do as good a job or better than you would.

The Resume

When you are reading resumes, select those who fit your needs – look for reasons not to hire them and only those who you think are truly viable possibilities should be invited for a phone interview – don’t answer any questions at all until you’ve gotten the answers you like for 1-6, you’ll just waste both your time. Tell them immediately if they don’t answer right that it doesn’t sound like they’re a good fit. Honesty and quick closure is best for both of you – going on to save feelings isn’t to anyone’s advantage.
if they answer your 6 questions well, and you have a good “feeling” about them, set an appointment for them to come to your house and interview.

BONUS TIP:  At the bottom of your ad, tell them to include their resume for consideration.  If they don’t send their resume, don’t even set up a call – they don’t follow directions.  This one item will save you a lot of time and trouble.


The Phone Interview

Your 6 phone interview questions –

  1. What are your long term career goals? – If they want to leave for CA and become an actress as soon as they can throw together $300 – don’t hire them. If their long term goals line up with the work you need – then, they’re a good candidate.
  2. Who were your last 3 immediate supervisors and if I ask them what your best strength as a worker for them, what would they say? They should list 3 things – that lets them know you’ll be checking their references and you’ll get a lot of truths and confessions from this.
  3. What would these same 3 people say you don’t do well?
  4. If you were to pick one thing you don’t like to do – or you really do poorly, what would it be?
  5. Do you smoke? (don’t hire them if yes) – they are in your home and will smell bad and they will have more sick days.
  6. If you have any pets – make sure you ask if they have allergies.

Many people say not to go by your intuition – but you need to listen to your gut -especially for a home based business. These questions will help to combine facts with intuition and you’ll weed out 98% of applicants and save a lot of your time.

ALWAYS check references.


The In-Person Interview


shutterstock_246765598If you did it correctly, there should only be about 2% of applicants (or less) to interview in person.  When they visit in person – use that to get a better feel for if they will work well and to explain exactly what you need from them. If you find a reason any place along the line to give you pause – don’t hire them. These meetings should be used to find reasons NOT to hire – it will save you time and money.

Don’t have someone else do this for you. It’s important, as a small business owner that you make this decision. I know it would be easier for you to hand it off to someone else, but it will take more time to fire and rehire if you don’t go through this process yourself.  I speak from experience.  I’ve never, ever had good experience in delegating the hiring.  This is the one thing I just don’t like doing – interviewing – but if you don’t take the time – you’ll be taking the time later with horror stories to share.  One time I had 4 people to hire at once and I got someone to help hire them – these people didn’t last 3 months.  In a small business, it’s important to develop the rapport and to make the connection.

One other thing.  I don’t have them fill out an application.  Their resume should be enough and it takes too much paper and time.  I save paper every chance I can and this is a big opportunity not to waste.


The Hire

If you find someone you like and want to hire.  Do it – don’t let them leave without hiring them.  You don’t need to play games or even finish the interview process with others in line.  If there is someone who you think is a perfect fit – hire them on the spot and negotiate the hours, pay and start date.  If you’re not sure – my experience says – don’t even think about it past the first interview – don’t hire them.

Start a Hire Diary

Another piece of advice after 30+ years of hiring…keep your eyes, ears and mind open to other positions for this person.  You may not need their skills now – but if you like them, they’ve got great skills – just not the ones you need for this job – keep their information.  Start a resource book for future hires.  This one interview process could fill 4 future jobs if you handle it correctly.

Don’t hire out of desperation.

If you can’t find the right person – wait – take a break and just put the hire on hold.  I can’t even tell you how much trouble the wrong hire can cost you.  Hours, liability, cost and headaches.

Be willing to shift your thoughts on the hire –

I’d had a very difficult time finding an administrative assistant.  I’m pretty easy to work for – but I’m demanding and I expect things to be done right.  I also love smart people – an assistant has to be smart, think on their own and work on their own.  3 years I looked for the right person.  Then – I just took a break.  I decided if I couldn’t find someone, I’d just do it myself.  Last year I placed an ad – it said

“Needed, someone to make lunches for me.  Vegan, mostly raw.  Here’s my story – I’m working out of my house and I need odds and ends, my grocery shopping and filing and anything else you can do to help free me up to get my work done.”

I had a lot of applicants.  Using the same process as above it came down to only two “in-person” interviews.  This lovely person came in, she was vegetarian, had thought about eating raw and was eager – she loved food preparation.  She’d just graduated with a degree in graphic design and was willing to work any hours.  She ate healthy and lived healthy and appreciated everything we strive to do as health coaches.  She was hard working and very easy to talk to.  Haha – you wouldn’t believe it – I found my assistant.  She’s a jewel. – Some of you will have the privilege of meeting her at Club Med.  I need graphic design work every time I turn around – she is so smart – and honest and careful and creative …and a hard worker.  I am SO lucky.

Once you find the right person, do everything you can to keep them.

She got an increase to full time the first day and 2 raises in the first few months.  That’s the other tip – once you find the right person – make sure you keep them.  In my old business – it took me 3 years to get my team…then I kept them for 30 years.  It’s important – it’s the key to good business – developing the right team.


So now – I have this incredible team – all my spots are filled by big winners!  You know some of them and may still need to meet some.  Not all hires have to come from an advertisement.

There are employment agencies and I’ve used them a few times – with poor results.  I won’t do it again.  About 26 years ago I hired a wonderful sales manager – paid a lot to the agency and that person had a terrible family crisis and had to leave and there was no relief for the fees – because she stayed 6 months.  The other times were just poorly qualified people.  You are just as well off going through the interview process on your own.

These are my current people and how I found them.

Ashlie (super duper allegiance and program creation and customization) – many of you may know that I didn’t have to go through the hiring process with her.  She’s my daughter.  It’s nice because she knows my values.  She was our first employee.  I needed help with just about everything and she had become sick and could no longer work as a personal trainer.  She saved me and I saved her .  She went to school to become a health coach, helps me write my programs, watches carefully over my interests and she’s even working for herself now – in doTerra.  Her hours grew as my needs grew.

Amanda (queen of customer service and dsd) – irreplaceable!  Her sister referred her to me when we had a DSD crisis – she got a raise the first week too.  Went from part time to full time – win,win,win,win,win!

Karen (queen of products and sales and now business coaching) – I hired her right after she sold 10 PWL’s as an affiliate to get the program as a prize for free.  I called her and hired her on the spot.  We shifted her around until we found just the right spot for her.

Shianne (queen of everything) she works with me right here and I don’t know what I’d do without her.  This was another win-win for both of us – it’s hard for a new graphic designer to find a good spot – and she’s doing what she loves. We have an endless number of websites for her to design and daily need for Facebook Graphics.  For a Club Med Promo, she made me lunch – photographed it, put it, with the recipe into an email – and I got to eat them!  I’m a lucky girl. It is her hiring story I told you (above).

Matt (marketing wizard) I’d worked with so many over priced marketing people as subs – I finally decided it was time to hire someone full time.  I can’t even tell you how excited I got today when he unveiled my new newsletter sequence in Infusionsoft!  I got goosebumps.  That things designed to be opened!  He’s not only going to bring our business up to a whole new level – he’s going to be able to teach all of you marketing tips and tricks every week.  I’m looking at putting together a streamlined marketing system for health coaches – with his help.  Infusionsoft has been a nightmare for me – finding people who not only knew how to use it – but cared about my business after the first 2 months.  They start off great and then hand the work off to someone who doesn’t have the knowledge and then don’t supervise them.  There were other problems, but most of them were related to not being attached to the outcome.  Matt is working right here with us and cares.

I found him by advertising on Craigslist.  I was hiring 2 spots at the time – bookkeeping and marketing.  I’m on a break from hiring a new bookkeeper and will get back to that after Club Med.

Marie (Sales and coaching – PLUS !!!!  our new affiliate manager)  Karen was becoming overworked.  Marie is a health coach and she has a strong sales background.  She’s just taking off and I know that she is going to make good things happen in our affiliate program!  I think she came to me – at just the right time.

I started out just subbing out what I needed and then, when it got to the point that I was wasting money or not really finding satisfactory work – that’s when I would hire.  Take it slow and build your team VERY carefully.

If you’re not quite ready to dip your toes in the boss pool, then consider a VA (Virtual Assistant) Health Coach University has a couple of great mini-courses written by VA’s on how to pick a VA.  


Where are you in this process?  What are some of your concerns?  What have been some hiring methods that work best for you?  Join in the conversation and share below!








  1. Laura Fragiacomo

    thank you Cathy! This is really interesting and as a manager/supervisor in my former career, I can relate to the importance of hiring the right team! Right now, I’m only looking to possibly hiring a part time or less virtual assistance to help me with marketing and client follow up (in particular around an online group programme that I’m developing/offering) wondering whether you will discuss this in Monday’s mentoring call? thanks!!!

  2. Moroshkina

    Thank God! Somenoe with brains speaks!


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