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Delegation: to Abdicate or Divide and Conquer?

All small businesses come into existence through the realisation of their founder’s dream. This dream is generally manifested from an idea or a skill set uniquely linked to the business owner, and it is easy to understand therefore how many of these owners develop a sense of autonomy about their ‘dreamchild’.

To stick with the ‘dreamchild’ metaphor, it might be worth bearing in mind an old African proverb which tells us, ‘It takes a village to raise a child’. Initially, in its infancy, your business can be like an unruly toddler, requiring your constant attention to provide direction and keep it on track but as it evolves and grows, a good ‘nanny’ might make your life easier.

The acquisition of your first few clients is such a buzz for any new business owner and, at that euphoric point, it is a source of great enjoyment to feel responsible for attracting the enquiry; pitching the deal; closing the deal; delivering the goods/service and all the corresponding background work that the deal encompasses.

Success then brings more clients, all necessitating a similar process to be followed, and ultimately, the recognition that the ‘background work’, once so appealing, is now in fact building up and eating into the precious ‘pitching the deal’ time, where you know your passion is what drives the sale and you are reminded of the fact that ‘people buy from people’.

Time for the metaphorical ‘nanny’.

Having identified where you can add maximum value to your business, it is time to get a greater understanding of what is involved in delegation. Firstly, you need to dispel any notion that you are abdicating responsibility, quite the opposite in fact, what your aim now is, is to divide and conquer. Divide the workload and conquer the business growth. [As highlighted in an article on taking SMEs to the next level]

What is it about delegating that business owners fear? Let’s work through a list:

a) Who? A common conundrum when looking for a remote assistant. As with any job opening, there can be an interview process. Go online, compile a short list, speak to potential candidates and when you think you’ve found the right fit, try them on a month’s trial basis. You will know soon enough if you’ve struck gold.

b) Why? It’s never simply a question of freeing yourself up, time wise. It’s more about effectively compartmentalising certain aspects of your business in an effective manner that contributes to the overall productivity capacity of your own skill set. [A clear and constructive blog on the subject]

c) Trust. How can I trust someone to do it how I want it done? Well the simple answer to that is you tell them. You’ve developed your own methodologies and if they work for you and you like them, ask for them to be adhered to. Be open to suggestions on improving techniques, but ultimately if you prefer your way, ask for it to be done your way.

d) Time. A frequently held belief is, ‘but I could do it quicker myself’, and of course, initially that’s probably true. However, over the course of one single month, you could train someone to complete a task that you currently devote a couple of hours to on a weekly basis, giving you back one full day a month.

e) What? But what on earth could anyone help me with? I mean, look at my typical daily ‘to do’ list. There’s nothing on it. It takes me five minutes to check those emails – most of them are rubbish; another few minutes to reply to some; make a couple of phone calls to set up some meetings, if I get through to people first time, then that’s only another few minutes; book a flight; check my LinkedIn; update my Facebook; and google that thing my client was talking about…..

f) Control. Accepting that you can’t do everything yourself is important for business owners. That’s not to say they need to relinquish all control, just have the confidence and perspective to know regular check-ins with your assistant can ensure you are both singing from the same hymn sheet.

g) Outsource. You don’t even need the headaches of employing staff, outsource these tasks that eat into your time, free yourself up to develop your business and enjoy the benefits of adding another working day to your month whilst your new assistant takes care of your admin and other background tasks.

So, take on that ‘Nanny’ and let your ‘dreamchild’ hit puberty!!

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