Learning to Delegate
Adapted from content excerpted from the American Express® OPEN Small Business Network
Some small business owners are proud of the fact that they do everything for their businesses themselves. But it doesn't always make business sense to be a one-person operation. In fact, you should delegate as much work as you possibly can if you want your business to thrive. If you don't, chances are you'll always be short on time, long on responsibilities, and standing still in business.
There are three key reasons why small business people say they can't delegate. Some common excuses are listed below. Read on to find out why they don't hold water. Then use a worksheet like the one described below to help you figure out what responsibilities you can delegate.
Money - "I can't afford to pay someone to do this for me."
It's short-sighted to avoid delegation because of the financial investment it requires. Yes, you will have to pay someone to do something you can do yourself. But if you're a consultant who charges $currency_symbol$100/hour, should you be using your time to stuff envelopes? Use the time you free up by delegating to find new business. This way, you'll still be making some money on the tasks you contract out and you'll be making money on the new work too.
Time - "It will take too much time to train someone. I can do it faster by myself."
Not having the time to train someone is often a smoke screen for something else like a fear of giving up control. If this is your rationale, write down all your tasks and how long it would take to teach someone to take care of them for you. Then choose one or two jobs that are the easiest to farm out and start with them. This will gradually get you used to letting go of routine responsibilities.
Quality - "No one can do this as well as I can."
This is the oldest excuse in the book; it's probably also true. But it's not a reason to avoid delegating. A person you hire may not do something as well as you can. But think about the job this person can do for you once he or she is trained. If you determine that only you can complete certain tasks perfectly, you have two choices: save them for yourself and delegate other tasks, or settle for having something done well instead of perfectly. Lots of times, a very good job is sufficient.
Use a worksheet to determine how you're using your time. Use it over the course of a week or two to see how much time each task (whether important or menial) takes you. You might find out that you're using a lot of time for certain jobs that can be easily delegated out.
Your worksheet should have three columns:
Task / Activity
Use the "Delegation Plan" column to record your ideas for steps necessary to farm out a task. Include a list of possible candidates.
Use it over the course of a week or two to see how much time each task (whether important or menial) takes you. You might find out that you're using a lot of time for certain jobs that can be easily delegated out.
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