Running a small business means that you are used to doing everything yourself. All decision-making, from big picture strategy goals to negotiating with vendors right down to purchasing office supplies, potentially runs through you. In the beginning, this makes a lot of sense. As you are establishing a business, you likely will need to put yourself into overdrive and pile everything onto your plate in order to save money, or just make sure it all gets done right.
Then at a certain point, things level off and you aren’t a new business anymore, you’re just a business. But if you want to be a growing business, you have to recognize when this point hits and take steps to change and optimize your own workload, as well as the workloads of your employees. That means delegating.
Delegating is not something that comes naturally to many business owners. After all, many entrepreneurs have gotten to where they are by being a bit of a control freak. While that behavior can serve you well, it has to be deployed effectively, which can’t happen when you are bogged down with time-consuming tasks that could be better performed by somebody else.
Clearing The Hurdles
Some of the most common reasons why business owners don’t bring in additional help so that they can delegate tasks are:
- Don’t trust a stranger to do it right.
- Wouldn’t know what tasks to delegate.
- Can’t afford it.
Let’s tackle these concerns one at a time.
Being able to strategically delegate tasks is going to require a bit of honesty with yourself on a few fronts. One such front, is recognizing whether or not you are the type of person who has trouble letting go of control.
Maybe you have a certain process that is working and you don’t want to mess with. Maybe you feel like you need intimate knowledge of every part of the business. Or maybe you are actually the only one who knows how to do certain things.
Bringing in new people or ceding control of important tasks that you are familiar with and trust yourself with can be difficult and scary, but the benefits are worth the risks. You can help smooth the process by trying to hire based off of personal recommendations or through a reputable recruiting agency, by writing out specific instructions for how you want certain tasks performed, and by bringing in people with a diversity of skills and strengths that compliment your own. And if you keep an open mind, you may even find that these outsiders bring in new ideas and might have ways to help perform tasks more efficiently.
Who Does What
It’s not always immediately clear what responsibilities can actually be delegated to someone else. One good way to figure that out is to keep a running log of all of your daily tasks for a week or two and how much time each one is taking. Then, analyze that list and determine which tasks truly move the business forward and contribute to growth, and can only be done by you (be honest with yourself). Any task that doesn’t rise to that level is a good target for delegation.
Some common tasks to think about delegating:
- Accounting / Bookkeeping
- Content Creation
- Social Media
- Website Design and Development
Can You Afford It?
Whether or not a business can afford to hire additional employees or contract outside help is a common and legitimate concern. But before you dismiss the notion out of hand, you have to think about the true costs involved. Not just the cost of what you would have to pay for someone else’s services, but what it is costing you to continue performing these tasks yourself.
Going back to your daily log of tasks, look at the ones you are considering delegating and add up the amount of time you are spending. Then consider, honestly, what the value of your own time is. What is your own hourly rate? What additional business would you be able to do for the company if you weren’t spending that time on less meaningful tasks? When you look at it this way, the costs associated with delegating might start to look a bit more affordable.
If you feel like your business has plateaued despite your being constantly slammed with work, it’s probably time to start thinking about delegating some of your tasks.
Whether it is contracting an outside company, hiring a freelancer, bringing on additional employees, or giving existing employees more responsibility, there is little doubt that strategic delegation is one of the most necessary and effective keys to growing a business.
Need help talking through the current state of your business and opportunities for growth? At 10twelve, we have started businesses of our own and helped many of our clients grow strategically. Let's jump on a 30 minute strategy call to see how we can help you.