As a business owner who serves other small businesses, I’ve come to appreciate the power and importance of learning how to delegate. Not only have I needed to outsource things myself, but a large proportion of my income relies on other people choosing to delegate written tasks to me.

Eventually, every business reaches a tipping point. It can take months, sometimes years, but one day you’ll need help. Maybe you’ll no longer be able to manage packing every order or walking each parcel to the post office. Perhaps you won’t have time to tweet or blog or hang out on Facebook like you used to. Maybe bookkeeping will become too much, or the day-to-day admin will start piling up. It may be as simple as wanting to buy back some time, so you’re free to do other things.

  • Know When to Delegate

Sometimes a growing business is a bit like a house being heated by a boiler that’s nearing the end of its life. Chances are, you’ll notice something is up. The pilot light keeps going out and the hot water isn’t heating quite as quickly as it should. The annual service rings alarm bells and you’re advised to replace it in the not too distant future.

You can pre-empt the inevitable and buy that new boiler right away. The old one’s still running, so you’ve got time to research your options, find the best model and get a good price. Alternatively, you can wait for the old boiler to die in the middle of a particularly harsh winter {because isn’t that always the way} and then rush to replace it from a point of crisis. No hot water, no heat, and no time to shop around or weigh up your options.

Once you accept you cannot do everything forever, the wisest thing to do is look for warning signs and address the weak spots in your business before they start to create real issues. Sometimes a new system or process is all that’s needed to iron out the kinks, but often you need to delegate certain tasks and responsibilities to somebody else.

  • Learn to Let Go

‘If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.’ – John C. Maxwell

If you have no desire to develop your brand or grow your business, you don’t need to worry. If you do, and you think you’re going to do it on your own by working 150hr weeks and never taking a day off, then enjoy! You’ll either prevent your business from reaching its true potential or burnout before you ever really have the chance to fly.

I get it, your business is your baby. You built it from the ground up. Everything you’ve achieved so far has been a direct result of your own hard graft and determination. Nobody could possibly care about it as much as you do.

Except maybe they could? Maybe it’s quite easy for other people to become emotionally invested in your dream, if only you’re prepared to let them in? What about the fact that when you delegate or outsource tasks to another small business, their success quickly becomes entwined with yours?

Letting go can be hard. I’ve watched numerous clients struggle to unburden themselves and hand over responsibility. I’ve also witnessed the overwhelming sense of relief many feel as they begin to reap the benefits. Whether they wanted to serve more customers, dedicate more energy to a different area of their business, or simply spend more time with their family, it’s delegating that’s helped them do it.

  • Find the Right Person for the Job

Ok, time for some tough love. You are not the best at everything. I’m not either. Nobody is. There are lots of things in your business only you can do, but there are also plenty of tasks somebody else will do better than you ever could.

Why? Often, it’s because the other person is a highly skilled expert who’s spent their entire career mastering something you’ve been doing to the best of your ability ever since your business took off. Sometimes it has less to do with talent or skill and everything to do with being able to give certain tasks the attention they deserve. Occasionally, it comes down to passion. Does every aspect of your business make your heart beat faster, or are there things you do begrudgingly? There’s bound to be someone out there who loves doing the jobs you hate.

Either way, delegating makes sense, but it’s vital you find the right person for the job. As well as knowledge and expertise, you need someone you can trust, someone who shares your values and cares about you and your business.

  • Be Prepared to Do the Work

Delegating doesn’t just happen. Handing over responsibilities requires time and energy. Often, you need to create systems and processes, do a little groundwork or spend a few hours training someone up. For many, this can be barrier. ‘It’ll be quicker if I do it myself,’ they’ll say. In the short-term, there may be some truth to this.

If you want to delegate successfully, you essentially need to make time to save time. A few hours spent handing over a handful of tasks this week could save you ten times that in the future.

To begin with, delegating can also involve a bit of back and forth while everyone gets to grips with the new dynamic. Don’t be put off by initial bumps in the road. Focus on establishing good communication and clear expectations.

  • In my own business, I currently delegate all the numbers stuff to my accountant and lots of graphic design to my pal Becky. In the future, I’d like to hire a VA and enlist the help of a cleaner to keep things ticking over at home.

Which domestic or professional tasks would you like to delegate and why?

Love Audrey xxx

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