You feel completely trapped because you need to be able to do more so you can afford an assistant, but you need an assistant to enable you to do more.
Am I right?
Yes. I thought so.
There is an answer to your problem though, and I’m kicking myself for only just discovering it now… hire an intern!
Before we go any further, I need to state that I cannot give and am not giving legal advice, anything I say is just my layman’s understanding of the law here in the USA.
An intern is a little different from a regular employee, in that they either get paid nothing or a fairly small stipend and their ‘pay’ comes instead from the benefits of learning from you and getting experience within your industry.
As I understand it, there is quite a big legal distinction here. An intern cannot just be used as free labor, they are there specifically for experience and personal development and thus their employer has the responsibility to do more than just have them filing papers and making coffee. While those things may be part of their responsibilities, the objective must be that they leave having learned more than just how many sugars you like in your coffee!
I hired my first intern (Elayna) in May 2013 and have to say that the whole experience has been more beneficial to me (and hopefully to her) than I can convey in one blog post. Being self-employed, having someone working with me has revolutionized my entire business environment and has forced me to develop as a person, as a businessman and as a leader.
I could write pages and pages on the subject, but to compact it down for you, here are the five main reasons I would recommend to any small business owner that you take on an intern.
- Discover things you never knew you could delegate. Michael Hyatt wrote an excellent piece on what his Virtual Assistant does for him which might give you some ideas as to what an intern could do. I’ve been amazed at how much I can delegate without the world falling down around me.
- Learn/practice leadership skills. The problem with being self employed is that you become very solitary and lose skills you need to lead a team as your business grows.
- Have someone to bounce ideas off of and to give you fresh input. I wrote about the ‘joys’ of being self employed a while ago and it has been incredibly refreshing to have someone there to talk ideas through with and who has their own creativity and experience to add to the conversation.
- Mentoring is an important part of personal development. Mentoring is a form of giving back and has great benefits both for the mentor and the mentoree. Not only do you get to share the experience and wisdom you have gained in your life but you get the joy of seeing someone learning, developing and growing under your tutelage.
- Refine and develop your personal standards and values. It wasn’t until I had an intern who edits my work and is there to learn from me that I was forced to put down in writing what my values, objectives and standards are. This process was amazingly helpful in helping me find direction for my business, which came as quite a surprise when that’s not what I thought I was setting out to do!
Taking on an intern may sound like a scary proposition, but if you have something to teach, you can be sure there’s someone out there who’s willing to learn – and you may be very pleasantly surprised by the benefits that come from it.
Have you ever considered hiring an intern? Or have you ever been one? I’d love to hear your experiences!