You’re probably thinking — Pfft! I can barely afford to pay myself, why would I hire more help when I can do it all on my own? Sure. This short-term thinking might save you money now, but aren’t you in this for the long haul? Don’t you want to invest in yourself so you can actually make your dream a reality instead of spending years learning Quickbooks when you can barely count?
While you’re going at it alone, climbing your way out of the red, your competitors are waving at you from the black. Welcome to the hamster wheel life. We have caffeine and Kleenex here.
Delegating puts you on the face track to graduating from solopreneur to dream-team builder and business owner.
People think it’s challenging to build their business because they equate growth with working more. They buy into the lie they’re the only person who can manage every step of the process, and if they stop moving, their business stops moving. You end up tumbling into a vicious cycle of rage and resentment because the thing that you love is slowly eating you alive.
You don’t want this life, friends.
Here’s a startling stat: people are more stressed out about running their business than raising their kids according to a Bank of America survey. One of the benefits of owning your own business is your ability to reinvest in resources that will make you agile and efficient.
You don’t need to micromanage the world and exhibit obsessive levels of control over every task to be successful. Also, it’s not a sign of weakness to ask for help when you need it. In a Gallup study, CEOs who are effective delegators exhibited 33% revenue growth, so figure out how to design and build a support team that can keep the day-to-day moving forward while you’re scheming over your long-term vision.
Why You Should Delegate
- You need to breathe: Most days I wake in abject terror over the dumpster fire country in which I live, or I’ll lie supine in massive anxiety because I’ve been shuttered in my home since March. Sometimes, you can’t crawl to your computer with 100% focus, and that’s fine because here’s the plot twist: you’re human. WHO KNEW, RIGHT? Maybe you need to step away from your work because you’re distracted, anxious, tense, stressed, or simply need a break. Handing over the reins, temporarily, could prove enormously beneficial to your mental health.
- You’re trading money for time: For me, time is more valuable than money, full stop. Time is the one resource we can never get back, so why not focus on using it meaningfully instead of squandering it. The time it would take you to do all the minutiae related to your business is time you could have been dreaming and scheming up new ventures, partnerships, and ideas. I’m a big fan of creating space for myself and outsourcing tasks that take me away from the work that lights me up and gets me out of bed. Clearing the decks and focusing on what makes you shine will help you gain results and sharpen your competitive edge.
- You can be the visionary and strategist in your business, not the day-to-day task manager and human fire extinguisher. Talk to anyone who spends their days putting out fires — they only see and solve for the problems in front of them. Working in their business instead of on it makes them strategically nearsighted, unable to step back and gain perspective. Perspective, mental, and physical distance creates space to think and conceive of big ideas. According to a Stanford study, when people work in excess of 50 hours a week, their productivity and creativity plummet.
- To that end, by not being a micromanager, you allow your team to shine: My mentor gave me one of the most important lessons on leadership: allow your employees to fall forward. But if you’re too busy falling for them and picking up the pieces, they won’t be empowered in their work. They’ll consider themselves a disposable cog, micromanaged, and untrustworthy. So, the easiest way to show your biggest stars the door is to overmanage them. Your employees model your style and approach, so inspire them by trusting them to do what they do best (the day-to-day) by killing it at what you do best (growing the business, thinking big).
How to Delegate
Take inventory of all the tasks required to run your business, and I’m talking about all of them. The emails, lead management systems, invoicing, accounting, new client onboarding kits, document management, etc. If you’re a consultant or freelancer, document the entire client lifecycle process from the intake call to the final invoice.
Now, estimate the time to complete each of these tasks. When I started documenting my time to accurately price my projects, I used Timely to time my tasks. Believe me when I say everything takes longer than you think it does. All of the quick “five-minute” tasks add up, nicking away precious that you can focus on the work that you set you apart from the pack.
Finally, identify which tasks that only you can complete. The tasks which cut your checks. If you’re a freelance copywriter, this could be your copy deck or deliverable or it could be your proposals or pitch deck. The task could be your differentiator, i.e., the customized model you’ve created, the experience you have in your sector or vertical, or the knowledge people will pay for. Once I identify those tasks, I then pad them with investment hours per month on self-education, competitor or market research, client feedback sessions — i.e., all of the investments required to refine my skills and grow my business.
And I don’t grow my business by spending hours following up on invoices when I can delegate admin tasks to a VA.
Consider this: are there repeated tasks in your daily grind that can be systemized? How do you prevent this inevitable state of stagnation? Cut back and create a margin in your day by delegating your work. Here’s how to do it:
Delegate to Technology
We’re in the age of chatbots, AI, and automation, so research if tools exist that can automate aspects of your business. Services such as IFTTT enable you to connect multiple applications and create customized workflows. Research tools and technology that will take time out of the equation. For example, I use Dubsado as a CRM and lead management system for my consulting business. I’ve built a communication workflow for my onboarding process, so every new client gets welcome kits, personalized kits, and housekeeping information once the contract has been executed.
Are there chatbots you can implement on your website that fields frequently asked questions? Research shows that people prefer chatbots when they have quick questions. Determine whether there are tools you can use to streamline communication, document management, and admin tasks.
Delegate to People
Step 1: Hire help: What tasks make you want to gouge your eyes out with a fork? Which requires more of your energy and less of your expertise? Think about it. We tend to spend a long time on what we dread because we’re not as good at it. Often, I hear about business owners who are not deft social media marketers reluctantly maintaining their channels with ho-hum results because while they know social media might be critical for their business, it’s not a role they’re passionate or skilled at.
My sore spots are financials — managing expenses, monthly books, invoicing, quarterly tax payments, and annual filings. Why would I spend an inordinate amount of time being mediocre at a task (and invariably making grave errors) when I can outsource experts? Sites like Bench offer affordable bookkeeping, but I’m old school and have a CPA that specializes in online businesses and consulting.
Step 2: Create and optimize process flows: The biggest mistake I see businesses make is allowing employees to take all their thought leadership and process flow to their next job. No one has documented the processes to get shit done because they think it’s a waste of time — everyone has a myopic, short-term mentality, which will cost in the long-term.
Create and document a step-by-step workflow of what needs to be achieved including any software, tools, and technology used to get the job done, and delegate that task to a contractor, employee, freelancer, etc. Meet with them on a regular basis to get their feedback and ideas to further refine your process and make it efficient. Why? You’re paying them to specialize in a specific task that’s in their zone of genius, so, like you, they’re likely spending time honing their skills and hoarding resources. They’ll have more insight into making their work more agile and efficient.
As a business owner, you need to be working on your business, not in it. Document, evaluate, and prioritize all the tasks you need to complete for the week or a given project, and determine which you can delegate to lighten your load and which requires your expertise. Making calculated, strategic decisions are key to success and you can’t make moves if you’re knee-deep in the day-to-day details.
Even if you’re working as an empire of one, you still need help to make magic happen.