When your business is your baby, it can be hard to pass off some of the work and let others handle some of the responsibility. Still, business experts say small business owners need to be able to delegate in order to grow their companies.
"A one-man show can't do it alone," said Sarah Hathorn, an Atlanta-based business coach and CEO of Illustra Consulting. "It takes a village."
Here are five foolproof steps toward letting go and focusing on what's going to make your business grow. Don't worry, you can do it!
First, small business owners need to figure out what tasks they should delegate.
Deborah Shane, a business consultant and educator based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., warns it is not productive for owners to do tasks that they are not good at and do not enjoy.
"You have to look at how you spend your time and value how you spend your time," she said.
Action item: Figure out which tasks are the ones that are adding value to your customers – not to the back end. Do your customers really care who does the bookkeeping?
Business owners should "focus on the tasks that generate revenue and outsource other jobs where they can," said Denise O'Berry, a small business consultant and author based in Tampa, Fla., who suggested small business owners make a list of all tasks they would consider delegating.
Otherwise, she said, an owner will become a jack of all trades and a master of none.
Action item: Make a list and decide which items can, with the proper training, be done by someone else.
Find the right people
"Most people look at [delegating] and say 'I can't afford it,'" Shane said. But she added that it's worth it to see if hiring others is affordable, even on a part-time basis.
Shane suggested that small business owners seek recommendations for potential employees from others in their community.
"Your own business sphere is the best place to get referrals," she said.
When even part-time employment is unfeasible, small business owners might consider hiring a college intern. Interns can be extremely helpful, Shane said.
Action item: Figure out how much it will cost to hire someone part-time and determine if you could make that much more money by focusing on selling and interacting with customers.
Small business owners may want to hold onto work and may not feel confident delegating tasks. Even after carefully choosing helpers, they may be uncertain about handing off responsibilities.
“They’ve got to have people that they can trust,” said John Calhoun, a professor of entrepreneurship at Jackson State University and the founder of IMS Engineers. “They’ve got to feel comfortable.”
The trick to overcoming these fears is to begin by assigning others smaller tasks, Calhoun said. Then, if they can handle the assignments, business owners can grow the size of the tasks delegated.
Action item: Pick one or two things to delegate and do it. Even if it doesn't get done right at first, it's a beginning.
In addition to starting with smaller tasks, small business consultant O’Berry recommended business owners communicate their objectives clearly to their workers.
“Identify the objective and set out a plan to check in on a realistic basis to see how it’s going,” she told BusinessNewsDaily. “Make sure you communicate your expectations for ‘check-ins’ and what the team member should do if they run into a road block. And, last, get out of the way and let the person get it done.”
Action item: Sit with the person you've delegated to do the job and explain why it's important to the company's overall operation. Tell them what you're hoping they'll achieve and then leave them alone. When your stress level starts declining, you'll be glad you took the leap.
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