There’s only so much that one person is capable of doing, and pushing yourself past your limits is going to end up in either failure or a nervous breakdown. Naturally, both are results we want to avoid – and a large part of that is learning to say “no” to tasks that you’re used to doing and delegating them to someone else or to a good information system.
Think about it this way – you’re a very valuable player in your businesses. If you’d get down to numbers, let’s say that on average, you can earn $150 per hour (numbers here are general – replace them with your actual figures). If you decide to do something, it has to be worth that dollar amount to you if you want it to help your company grow. If it can be something that someone else can do, and doesn’t need your high-value time to work on it, then you should definitely delegate that work.
But then, how do you know what to delegate and how do you find someone to delegate it to?
To start, try to pick the easiest task that’s the least constructive use of your time, the easiest to train someone on and will require the minimum of your time to manage them, and figure out a way to have someone else do it or to automate it.
For some businesses, the answer will be a virtual assistant. For others, it’ll be a secretary or entry-level associate or part-time bookkeeper or IT consultant. And sometimes technology can be the “other person” that you delegate to – it doesn’t matter what or who it is as long as you achieve the same goal: More time for profitable activities and a smaller expense.
If you’ll earn more money (or sanity) through their help than what that help costs you, you’ve made a choice that’s going to allow your business to grow. Keep in mind, though, the hidden costs of delegation – you do need to train, supervise, and communicate with your new addition, so don’t expect to let go of control completely. Also keep in mind the potential cost of hiring the wrong person at first, which could be very costly.
Let’s take a look at a few case studies that I’ve encountered over the past years with my clients:
The startup: A startup company becomes very successful. The owner finds himself doing everything in the business, from taking phone calls, setting appointments, meeting clients, generating proposals, performing the work, billing and more. He’s up to his knees in work, he’s starting to get burnt out, and he feels like the business has taken over his life.
Advice: Document everything that you’re doing in all your roles. From that list, pull out all the tasks that don’t need your wisdom and skill and that you can train others to do. Find a competent assistant to take over those tasks.
Result: A business owner of a growing, thriving, healthy business, with a healthy work/life balance.
The small business: A team is constantly pressured to meet client deadlines. There’s a lot to keep on top of and they’re constantly distracted by all the client inquiries and support, and especially all the administrative work. They feel like they’re drowning, and are started to fall short of performing their responsibilities properly.
Advice: Take the administrative responsibilities away from the team specialists. Allow each person to focus on areas of their strength. Hire someone to assume the administrative tasks and to handle distractions and client inquiries so that the team members can focus on getting their job well done. Implement a project management system so that deadlines are met in a timely fashion and team members can collaborate.
Result: A successful, growing business that exceeds customer expectations and provides superb support.
The same ideas apply to any size or type of company – you need to have the right amount of manpower to support your growth. You need to learn how to delegate jobs so that others can do it well in place of you. Yes, it will take an investment – but isn’t your company the best thing to invest in?
Disclaimer: Although a new hire or system can be extremely helpful, you need to make sure that the choice is as profitable as you thought it would be. If you hire someone who turns out to be incompetent, or use a system that just frustrates you and doesn’t help, don’t be afraid to let it go and try something now. Even if you’ve invested a lot into it, if it won’t continue to be profitable, you need to cut your losses early on.
Take action now – what can you do to delegate some of your responsibilities?