Four tips to help you master the art of delegating in a small business

Are you struggling to manage every aspect of your business? Follow these four tips and master the art of delegating in a small business. 

Brian Smith, the founder of Ugg Australia, said that one of the keys to success is to treat your business like a baby. “You have to feed it and nurture it,” he says in his 2014 book The Birth of a Brand. “You can’t give birth to adults.”

For any founder and parent, this is an analogy that will resonate. Like a baby, your business needs constant attention at first, and it can seem like every waking moment which isn’t dedicated to family life is spent working.

Trethowans

For many of us, starting up means trying to do it all – not only are you making your product or providing your service and dealing with clients or customers, but you’re also working on your marketing, trying to get to grips with social media, SEO, advertising and PR.

You’ve got a business plan, but as the days fly by it’s difficult to find the time to focus. You need to keep on top of your finances, make sure those pennies keep rolling in. Then there are the legals, the HR, the company administration…

Sound familiar?

The thing is, it’s too much for one person to sustain. The saying “it takes a village” is as true for a business as for a child. No matter your specialism, I’ll bet it isn’t the other 20 things you’re trying to do.

So what can you do?

Four tips to help you master outsourcing

If you’re looking for growth, you need to enlist some help. Here are four tips to help give you the space you need to grow your business:

1) Learn to let go

Letting go is hard. One of the biggest problems for start-ups and small businesses is that founders try to do it all. But, like a child, your business will thrive given input from others.

Hands up time – I’ve been there, grimly hanging onto tasks until they’ve been prised out of my hands. But eventually I learned to let go where I need to and, if there’s just one thing I can pass on, it’s this – learning to delegate is the single best thing you can do for your business.

Your time is best spent focusing on the core – customers and sales, strategy and growth. Only by creating some distance can you see the whole picture, and work out what you need to do to get where you want to go.

Basically, don’t waste precious time and energy better spent earning.

Which leads me onto the next point…

2) Stop telling yourself you can’t afford it

“But I’m running a start up. I can’t afford to hire people – I need to save money.”

If you’re starting from scratch then yes, there is a period of time when you might have to be a jack-of-all-trades while you generate your first sales – but there’s a regular exercise you should do, which is quick, simple and based on pure economics.

You should work out what you can earn in one hour. Then pick 2 regular tasks you dislike the most (or understand the least), and estimate how long it’s taking you to complete them to a decent level.

Finally, just spend 30 minutes looking into how much it might cost you to outsource them. (A good starting point is to check out the Hourlies on PeoplePerHour.)

There’s a distinct possibility that you can earn far more in that one hour than it will cost you to outsource. Also, if a task isn’t in your area of expertise then it’s probably taking you much longer to complete than it would take a specialist – and it’s highly likely they could achieve a better result.

Which means that right now, you’re losing money – not saving it.

3) Identify the tasks you can delegate

But what sort of tasks should you think about delegating? Well, anything really. Freelance specialists abound, not to mention the many multi-talented Virtual Assistants and Small Business Consultants out there with skillsets ranging widely from SEO to social media, bookkeeping to design, events planning to productivity.

My advice would be to take some time and pinpoint two aspects which, if working effectively, would have the biggest impact on your bottom line.

Here are six easy things you can look at delegating to a freelancer:

  • Social media.
  • Blog or copywriting.
  • Facebook or PPC advertising.
  • Bookkeeping.
  • Company administration.
  • Data entry or transcription.
  • Research.
  • Booking meetings or travel.

4) Find the right people to delegate to

The best starting point is always good old word of mouth and we’re so lucky now to be spoilt for choice. Ask a friend, or post in a trusted Facebook group – I see lots of these queries in the TLC Facebook group, and they’re always rewarded with a list of quality leads. Check out testimonials, reviews and examples of work.

There are lots of places you can look online – including:

Start off on a trial basis, making use of one-off tasks, small projects or hourlies on peopleperhour.com to work out whether you like working with someone and are happy with the quality of work they produce.

The best tip I can offer? Be as specific as possible with what you’re looking for. If relevant, give some background context, provide examples of the type of work you like and agree a certain number of amends. Work out what you would see as a successful outcome.

Outsourcing gives you the best of both worlds

The beauty of outsourcing to a freelancer is that you can have the best of both worlds. Use them whenever you want, time and again if you’re happy, and you can build a fantastic working relationship. At the same time, you can enjoy the flexibility of only using them when you need to.

If you’re not happy, make sure the work is finished to your brief and just move on. But with a little upfront due diligence, you’ll quickly find a good fit for you.

Getting the support you need is crucial to growth. And once it’s in place, you’ll wonder why you ever tried to manage without it.

Lucie Gill is a small business consultant and the owner of LVGVirtual, where she helps business owners manage their communications, finances and company administration. Proud Mum to one beautiful girl, she’s based near Leeds. Check out her website or connect on Twitter.

Photo by Paulette Wooten