Few people know what it’s like to own a small business unless they’ve actually done it. You need vision, passion and optimism to create something from scratch. You must maintain the high level of dedication and tireless work ethic it takes to keep a brand, product, and team continually working and evolving.
Because of this, many successful small business owners have their hands in every aspect of their operations. And so, when there comes a point where you must share responsibility or else work 24 hours a day, it’s not so easy to delegate.
Why delegate? One person, or even two or three people, simply cannot shoulder the load of all the tasks that go into keeping a small business thriving, and trying to carry the world on your shoulders isn’t good for you or your bottom line. We know it can be hard to let go of certain tasks that you’ve been handling since the beginning—delegating means giving up control, and trusting someone else with your baby. But as with any skill, it’s one that can be learned.
Here are some tips for delegating that will ease you in gradually, help take key tasks off your plate, and ultimately free you up to handle the work that matters most.
Figure Out What You’d Rather Not Do
No one loves every task equally, and if there are things you find yourself avoiding because you just don’t like doing them, it could be something you could delegate it to someone who does. As a business owner, there are things you may find others are more able and enjoy doing. If you dislike running inventory or posting on social media, but you’ve been doing it because no one else was available, make those tasks your priorities for delegation.
Choose Whom You Delegate To Wisely
Your employees have different strengths. Learn their strengths and weaknesses before handing off tasks. You want to set them up for success, so be sure the work you’re giving them plays to their abilities. In other words, if someone admits they aren’t good with numbers, don’t give them the monthly invoicing just because they have some free time, or there isn’t anyone else who wants it. Since delegating work requires that you trust your employees, you don’t want to create a situation where your trust will be immediately invalidated. Successful delegation, to an employee who’s ready and able to complete the work, will help you build trust for future hand-offs.
Make Certain They Understand Your Expectations
I’m convinced most people want to do a good job, but they may need to know what you consider to be a job well done. What exactly are you currently doing, from start to finish? And what are your expectations as far as each step of the process? If you can articulate these, preferably in writing, then you can give them something they can reference if they have questions. Of course, you may still need to provide some face-to-face instruction, but having a written primer will cut your explanation time down considerably, and make the hand-off of the task more efficient overall.
Hire Carefully, Based on Skills You Need
We’ve written a lot about the importance of vetting your team carefully as you go to hire the right people. One of the key reasons to go through multiple steps before making an offer is that you want to be able to trust your team with tasks that you are handling right now; think of this as future delegation. If you don’t think that anyone else on your staff is detail-oriented enough to handle the invoicing or bookkeeping, then you’ll need to hire for that skill set. For example, if you’re hiring hoping to find someone who can help with the bookkeeping or reporting down the road, the job description should reflect that.
Acknowledge the Person Taking Over
It may sound like a small point, but saying, “Thank you for taking this on” can be an invaluable way to make a team member not only feel appreciated, but also gain respect for the importance of the task. You know how important each piece of your business is to you, but the members of your team may not have the same insight or perspective. As such, acknowledging their contributions and letting them in on the importance of their role is a great way to motivate the person taking over, and educate them—not just about one particular task, but about best practices for running a small business.