I'm sure you've noticed – even before we are done with Halloween (and certainly we can't get through Thanksgiving anymore) before we're bombarded with ad after ad announcing the forthcoming holidays.
This year, take advice from an assistant who's been there and done that. Here's 5 items any assistant will LOVE!
1. Dymo label printer Sounds like such a silly thing, doesn't it? Why is a label printer any different than the regular printer? Think about it – the paper is sticky on one side which can cause jamming and even damage to a regular printer; the formatting can be difficult and the labels expensive. Suffice it to say, labels printed through a regular printer can be a really tricky thing. Enter the Dymo – a small printer just for labels that plugs in via USB and can be accessed from most popular software with the click of the mouse.
2. CardScan – tiny, like the Dymo, but rather than getting the information out easily – you get it in. The CardScan is extremely effective at getting all those business cards laying around into a contact database FAST. A definite cure for the holiday mailing list frenzy/angst felt by most business this time of year!
3. A scanner/all-in-one with a sheet feeder that holds at least 20 pages. If it can scan double sided and has a flat bed – all the better. As with any printer, toner is more expensive to buy, but lasts much longer than ink. Expect to pay about $400 for a solid machine and make sure it is either TWAIN or comes bundled with Adobe Professional at no additional cost. You can keep an eye out for deals at places like Tiger Direct and MicroCenter and even some major chain stores are known to throw out a good bargain once in a while. This past weekend, Office Max sold the Brother MFC 7420 for only $99. So if $400 sound like a large number, shop for deals, and remember you're removing the copier, printer and fax with all their related cartridges, toners and maintenance, while at the same time getting items such as mail, file copies and receipts scanned and digital.
4. The right tech so s/he can work from home 1 or 2 days per week (and so could you)! Truly, wouldn't you both at least like the option?! For less than $10.00 per month you can collaberate securely in your own private webspace thanks to services such as 37Signal's BackPackIt. A free option is to transfer the files through secure web based services such as SendThiFile. Other web based tech allows you to work from any phone, and your assistant from any computer connected to the internet.
5. Up to date equipment/software/ training. If the computer your assistant is working on is older than 3 years or uses software more than two versions behind the most current, it is time to upgrade. You don't want to wait for the machine or software to crash before you do.
Plan a January 1st start date for moving forward on updated equipment and software. This gives you enough time to research and purchase what you need, as well as get everyone involved trained before year's end. These days, software is not intuitive. This makes training a must if you want to experience a seamless transition.