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Delegation, the Key to Small Business Growth

many hats

No matter what type of business you’re in, you’ve probably found yourself filling the role of salesperson, customer service rep, webmaster, office manager, and many others. When you’re just starting out and have time but not money to spare, this is often necessary. As your business grows, however, you’ll find it more and more difficult to efficiently manage all these different functions. If you don’t prepare for this day, you’ll be forced to put in longer and longer days in order to get all your work done.

In his bestselling book, “The E-Myth Revisited,” Michael Gerber suggests that you prepare an organizational chart for your business right from the get-go, complete with descriptions for each job you currently perform. This may seem unnecessary (after all, you know what you have to do!) but it will help you prepare for the time when you need to start delegating to employees or outside services. Having formal job descriptions in place will not only allow you to identify the work you can delegate as your business grows, but make the transition less disruptive and stressful.

Unfortunately, if you’re like most business owners, you haven’t taken these steps, and now that you’re overworked, you just don’t have the time to figure it all out. If you’re at that point, there are steps you can take to avoid putting your physical and mental health at risk.

Step 1: Identify how you are spending your working hours.

Most of your activities will probably fit into one of the following categories:

Key Tasks

As the business owner, your biggest priority should be the activities which contribute directly to your business goals. Unfortunately, when you are dealing with day-to-day concerns yourself, management functions are neglected.

Essential Tasks

Meetings, telephone calls, email, and report writing are all necessary, but not as important as planning and managing your business. Delegating one or more of these routine tasks will allow you to devote more time to your key tasks, and may even let you spend fewer hours working.

Useful Tasks

There is much value in purging outdated material from your files and other activities that make your work environment more efficient or more pleasant; however, as these tasks are not critical to your business, they should also be delegated.

Step 2: Review your activity logs.

You’ll probably be surprised to see how much time you waste shuffling papers, looking for misplaced items, dealing with interruptions, and performing other tasks that have no impact on your bottom line. By identifying these non-productive activities and developing strategies to eliminate them, you’ll be able to work more efficiently and have time to organize your work in a way that you can delegate more easily.

Begin by looking at the essential and useful tasks you listed in step 1, and identify those that you may be able to delegate. Consider what will have the biggest impact on your time and stress management if you were to remove it from your own to-do list: it may be those you dislike, those for which you lack skills, or those that will be least expensive for you to pay someone else to do.

Step 3: Get ready to begin delegating.

Once you’ve selected one or more tasks to delegate, you can begin to look at potential delegatees and any further steps that may be needed in order to transfer the work.

For many business owners, there is something even more challenging than the practical steps described above. If you’ve been doing everything yourself, you may find it hard to relinquish control and fear that no one will do things exactly the way you do.

For some business owners, outsourcing work for the first time can be as difficult to deal with as a parent leaving a child with a sitter for the first time. It’s important to remember that delegation is vital to the growth of your business, just as time away from you is essential to your child’s development. Once you accept this fact and begin to delegate, you will never look back. Many of my clients have expressed how liberated they felt after they started to use my virtual assistant services, and I experience the same thing when I decided to let a professional take over my bookkeeping.

Get ready to delegate – get ready to grow!

Photo: © iStockPhoto.com / Lisa F. Young

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