Do you think the secret to growing your small business is to work harder and harder, putting in longer and longer hours? In reality, the secret to growing your business is just the opposite—it’s delegating work to others. If you’re obsessed with handling every aspect of your business yourself, from answering emails and phone calls to making sales presentations and providing services, your business is doomed to stall out. After all, there’s only one of you, and with only 24 hours in a day, your business can only grow so far without help.
That’s where delegation comes in. Delegation not only helps your business grow by allowing you to handle more duties, it also makes your employees happier and more loyal by making them feel trusted and empowered.
Follow these four steps to successful delegation:
- Change your mind-set. Many entrepreneurs start businesses because they’re convinced they can do what they do better than anyone else. That makes it hard to let go of your duties and trust your “baby” to other people. The first step to delegation is understanding why it’s so important: You have to stop sweating the small stuff (like answering the phone or replying to every email) so you can focus on the big stuff (like monitoring cash flow, getting paid and planning for the future).
- Identify activities you can delegate. If you notice that you’re spending more time on tasks you hate doing and less time on what you love, delegation offers an opportunity to change all that. For instance, if you’re not a “people person,” would you like to focus less on sales and customer service, and more on strategic planning and accounting? Also identify tasks that can easily be handed off, like updating records or filing documents.
- Identify who can help. If you have employees, it should be pretty clear what duties you can delegate. For instance, if you have an assistant, he or she could go through your voice mail and emails and use templates to answer those that don’t need your personal response. Don’t have employees? Consider outsourcing using websites like TaskRabbit, Elance.com or Freelancer.com. Or hire a virtual assistant. A good way to look at delegation is to assess what you charge for your time and how much it would cost to outsource the task. For instance, if you charge $100 an hour but you’re spending 2 hours a day updating records, could you hire someone to do it for $10 an hour and spend your $100-an-hour time on more valuable activities?
- Do it right. Don’t just hand off a task to an employee or independent contractor without some instruction. Explain what you want them to do, the purpose of the task and how it fits into the overall company. Also make sure they have the tools they need to do it right. Once they’re comfortable with it, don’t micromanage, but do check in from time to time and make sure you’re available to answer any questions. Once the task is done, review it with the person and provide any feedback needed to improve next time.
As you delegate more, you’ll get more comfortable with it, and soon you’ll start to wonder how you ever stood answering all those emails yourself!
About the Author
Rieva Lesonsky is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media and custom content company focusing on small business and entrepreneurship. Email Rieva at [email protected], follow her on Google+ and Twitter.com/Rieva, and visit her website, SmallBizDaily.com, to get the scoop on business trends and sign up for Rieva’s free TrendCast reports.