As business owners, we all know we should delegate, but that doesn’t mean we are good at it. As a matter of fact, almost every entrepreneur I talk to, regardless of the size of their company or the number of employees, either tells me that they can’t delegate, they don’t know how to delegate, or they try and fail miserably to effectively delegate. If you fall into that category, don’t feel bad, you are in good company!
Like it or not, if you want to grow your business without losing your mind and all of your sleep, you will have to learn to delegate. I know the excuses – I’ve used them myself. And I’m about to debunk them for you. And then I will tell you how to become a better, more effective delegator.
Excuse Number One: “It’s easier and faster to do it myself.” Yes, it is. But for each item that you say this about, I would ask you to add up the time that you spend each week, each month, each year doing these tasks. Now imagine that you spend a few hours up front teaching someone else how to do this for you, how much time would you save in the long run?
Excuse Number Two: “I can’t afford to pay someone else to do these things for me.” Actually, you can’t afford not to. Think about the highest value work that you do. Perhaps it involves bringing in new clients, creating new opportunities for your company, servicing your best clients, etc. How much is that work worth per hour? $100? $500? $1,000? More? Whatever the number, if it’s more than the cost of paying an assistant to do it for you, you are losing money by doing it yourself. The key is when you delegate lower value tasks, you must replace them in your schedule with higher value tasks.Using the extra time to take a longer lunch and spend more time surfing the internet, not a great idea. Spend that time working on your business, creating new income opportunities, bringing in new clients, etc., and you win..
Excuse Number Three: “Nobody else can do it the same way I do.” True. No one will do anything exactly how you do. In order to effectively delegate, you will need to let go of the idea that it HAS to be done exactly like you do it. If you focus on the results, and give your employee a step by step system for achieving it, you should be able to let go of the notion that it has to be you, and allow that person to do it their way and succeed. It’s even possible that they will do it BETTER than you do, if you give them the chance.
Have I convinced you to delegate more? If so, read on to find out where and how to start!
Excuse Number Four: “I don’t know what to delegate.” Understandable. Figuring out what items to give to someone else can often feel like a daunting task. The following system will help you sort it out:
1. Spend a few days writing down everything that you do in your business. And if there is something that you do less frequently, add that in as well.
2. Circle all of the tasks that you are not the best at, or that do not need to be done by you.
3. Estimate the amount of time you spend per month on each of the tasks circled.
4. Start by choosing three activities to delegate – either the ones that take up the most time, the ones that you would most like to get off of your plate, or the ones that are the easiest to delegate.
5. Figure out who in your company is best suited to do these tasks, and delegate!
Excuse Number Five: “I don’t know how to teach someone else to do these tasks.” If you’re like most of us, the tasks that you do day in and day out are all in your head. You might even do them automatically, without thinking about it. I equate this to driving a route that you travel all the time. You know how to get there, but you don’t know how to tell someone else to get there, because you never pay attention to details such as the names of the streets, how many lights you go through, etc.
If you want to teach someone else to do a task and produce the desired result, you will have to get that task out of your head, and into writing. This can be time consuming and even tedious, but once it’s done, it is so worth it! One technique is to start at the end, with the desired result. And then go one step back, and then another step back, and so on, until you have documented all of the steps to your result.
Another method is to do the task, and document each step as you go along. Keep in mind that the most important thing is that the person that you delegate to understands and achieves the results you want. Give them the freedom to change and improve upon your system, as long as the end result meets your needs, and you will never have to micromanage anyone. And you can replace the tasks that you don’t need to do, with tasks that create value in your business and allow you to focus on what you do best.
I know that at least some, if not most of you have stories about your successes and failures when it comes to delegating. Please share them here, so we can learn from your experience!
I love using freelance websites for help on odd jobs. Elance.com is great, but I use Fiverr.com the most. Fiverr.com has been invaluable to me for finding cheap specialized freelancers – I’ve used for help with marketing flyer creation, logo design, letterhead, small WordPress fixes, business card and note card design. Almost everything done at $5 per project! There’s no way I could’ve done the work for $5 nor hired someone else for that cheap either! While these freelancers aren’t my assistant, they still do great work and fill in where my assistant is lacking. And while the freelancers are getting stuff done, I’m freed up to work on other juicey stuff for my business.
Thanks for your comment, Jennifer. I have heard a lot about Fiverr, but never used it myself. It sounds like you’ve gotten some good quality work done for very little money. And if you are then freed up to do high value work, it’s a no brainer!
We own a jewelry store and for several years operated it as husband and wife. As our business grew, thankfully, we needed to hire a sales person. One of the tasks that I enjoyed the most was decorating the window and display cases. I felt it was my opportunity to be creative. You see, my husband is a jewelry designer, very creative. I am the accountant, not so creative. We hired a young gal with tons of energy. Reluctantly I handed over the tasks of displaying the merchandise and gave her free reign with all of my props, fabrics, etc. Wow! She has created store windows that literally stop people in their tracks! Now, if I could just get her to want to do the boring accounting tasks, I would be a happy camper. Oh, she is a great sales person, too!
LOL, Tami, that’s a great example of excellent delegating. And perhaps you can find a new role for yourself, and delegate the “boring accounting tasks” to a bookkeeper!
I hired my first virtual assistant close to 10 years ago and handed off all the technical tasks associated with my website. I don’t want to learn how to do them myself, though I could, because I have no interest and I’m better at other things. That has freed up time to do higher value work, just as you suggested.