I spend a lot of time with small business owners. One of the big reasons for entrepreneurs struggle to make the shift from self-employed to business owner, is the fact that they struggle to delegate. Building a team is one of the most important aspects in growing a business. The business will never be able to expand unless you are willing to as well. The most frequent answer to this question is. They cannot do it as good as I can. I would rather do this myself. Yes, that can be partly true. They could not do something the same as you, but they might find a different way of doing the same thing. Maybe just not the way you are used to it. Does it make it wrong? No. It does make it authentic and provide a totally different perspective on the matter.
Delegating tasks can be a learning experience for both you and your team. By giving others the opportunity to take on new responsibilities and challenges, you may discover new talents and skills that you never knew existed within your team. It can create new opportunities that you were not even aware of. Ultimately, delegation opens up time for you to move your business forward and assist you in focussing on a FEW CORE elements of the business.
I do understand this is a very difficult step.
I remember my initial years. I wanted to be the receptionist, the postman, writing letters, being involved in all the work and looking for new customers. I felt guilty if I was not part of each and every process. Granted, the initial stage of a business requires you to more involved in everything, but it is important for the growth of your business to let go, little by little, of all the low priority activities. You are not helping the business nor the team, if you don’t let go.
It was only once I learned to delegate, that my team grew stronger, and business grew in numbers.
How do I learn to delegate? You learn by experience. You learn by start taking the first step in doing it. You allow others to shine.
Start making a list of all the low-priority tasks that takes a lot of your time, with little or no profit. This is the first items to be handled by someone else. Use an admin executive or a freelance virtual assistance to start taking of the load from you. As you start to delegate some work, you will slowly but surely start to notice other items that you can also delegate. Delegation is not a one-time event but an ongoing process. As your business grows and changes, you will need to continuously reassess and adjust your delegation strategy to ensure that it is meeting your needs and goals.
Allow me to break down some of the ideas that have been successful for me over the years, as well as share my experiences in implementing them.
1. Find the correct employees or outsourcers.
Finding the right employees or outsourcers that perfectly fit your needs can be a time-consuming process. It's important not to get discouraged if the first one or two, or even more, don't work out. In fact, it's not uncommon to go through at least ten before finding the ideal candidate. This means you need to weather the storm and go through ten to find that one perfect fit. Hire fast, but fire even faster. All CV’s or resumes look the same. All applicants promise the moon and the starts. They all believe they are the perfect fit. Most would overstate their actual capabilities. You will waste your time sitting in hours of interviews, just to find out the one you chose at long last does not work out after all. Hire fast. Fire even faster if you need to. You are not making friends. You are building a proper sold team for your company. In a market environment where you don’t find long employment anymore, I have been privileged to have the senior members of my team with me for many years. The numbers of years of the senior members varies from six to 17 years.
Since the beginning of 2018 I changed my thinking about employees. I used to run a company with 16 employees, and since 2018 brought down my full-time employees to four full time senior employees. The rest are all outsourcers. Doing this was intense but changed the whole scope and scalability of our businesses. In fact, by doing this we currently have a team of more specialized and highly trained individuals. Three of our outsourcers are also accountants, that started their own accounting practices during the last year. By using them they assist us by adding value and helping with volumes, and in return we provide them with a constant monthly income (based on their value output) and time to grow their own practices. In time my wish for each of them is to grow fully into their own accounting practices. We only win if both of us win.
Further to this rant above, we have a team of specialized services each. Several media and graphic outsourcers, and also other admin related services.
The wonderful thing about outsourcing for me is, that you don’t have that monthly fixed salary that can become a burden. Full time employees need laptops, workspace and add to the insurance and other office costs. When we have work, they have work. We only win if both of us win. (No this is not a typo; it’s truly how I feel)
Outsourcers can be utilized in specific projects during the course of business.
It can be done in most business markets. Especially in the new work model, where a lot of people prefer to work from home or other flexible options.
One of our clients, a painting contractor, used to have a payroll of about 250 employees. They always struggled with cashflow and also workflow. One day, which was a good day, the owner decided to deconstruct his whole business, and came up with a solution to decrease his 250 employees to 50. Wow! He identified his five foremen, and signed a contractor’s agreement with them, and allocated a team underneath them (all of them was previous employees). Something magical happened. The productivity and work ethics went up noticeably. Every contractor is being paid based on a specific project and not per week. Performance based and not time based.
Jim Rohn could not explain it simpler. “You don’t get paid for the hour. You get paid for the value you bring to the hour”.
Action plan to implement:
Make a list of the employees you want and need by your side full time.
Sketch a plan with outsourcers around these employees.
What of your current costs can be saved because of this?
How can I structure my business what both parties can win? Remember, we only win, when both of us win.
2. Reverse-engineering to achieve your Top 5 priorities
Identify your top five priorities and determine the necessary steps to achieve your desired outcome. By reverse-engineering from your end goal to your current situation, you can determine the actions needed to bridge the gap. Remember, you can only do so much during a day (to maintain a balanced life between work, family and play). It is important to identify the 5 top priorities that will move the needle for your business AND provide you with joy while doing that.
If you don't enjoy what you're doing, it's unlikely that you'll be motivated to continue doing it. Therefore, it's important to find work that aligns with your interests and passions. Make a list of the five things that provide your joy in work and outsource the rest.
3. Find a world class PA / EA / VA
You need that person that can take the load of your back. It can be a personal assistant (PA), Executive assistance (EA) or Virtual assistant (VA) or a mix of it all. Whatever work for you in your business environment. Please, don’t let the predesigned rules of these formats hinder your from designing your own personalised version of how the job description of your PA should be. You build the concept that works for you.
A number of ideas for you, that I have implemented with big success in our company.
4. Become more exclusive
Become less available, and more exclusive. This will increase your market value.
Not everyone needs to have access to you all the time. Fun fact: Most people that demand your time or attention immediately, tend to waste it as well. Please read this again, as it is so important. This is true 95% of the time.
Everything that you need to do, consumes small bits of your time during the course of the day. These small bits VERY QUICKLY fills up your whole day. Its up to you to prioritise your day and stick to it (for the most part. I understand things happen). Most people don’t value time, and they won’t value yours. Its up to you to put a value tag on your time.
By becoming a specialist in delegation, you can become an exclusive business owner. Let me state it in another way. Developing expertise in delegation can make you a distinct and exceptional business owner, as it enables you to concentrate on your strengths and delegate tasks to others who are better suited for them.