What Can Small Business Owners Do to Work Smarter, Not Harder? Delegate.
As a small business advocate, I always try to find interesting topics or issues to write about that appeal to as many business owners as possible. One area I consistently see small business owners struggle with is delegation. Learning to delegate is possibly the hardest thing a business owner will have to learn to do in their business life. Loosening the grip of complete control over your business and trusting someone else to carry out your vision as you imagine it to be is nerve wracking, at best.
In my years working with small business owners, delegation is the one skill that when accomplished successfully that can be the main driver of business growth. With your newfound time, you can focus more energy on the future of your business instead of day to day operations. Plus, how great would it be to have someone you trust to take care of your business if you wanted to ever go on vacation?
Depending on the size of your business you may never fully disconnect from operations, but there are many things that you, as a small business owner, can do to work smarter. Learning to delegate well is one area that can make or break a business owner’s day. Delegation doesn’t have to mean giving up the work you love to someone else. On the contrary, it affords you the opportunity to spend more time doing the work you prefer.
Here are 5 ways to make your entry into delegation easier.
Make a To Do List:
It seems simple, but this is one of the hardest tasks to keep current, new issues creep up during the day, before you know it, it’s 1:30 pm and you haven’t even started to do what you intended when you woke up. Instead, you’ve put out some fires and got sidetracked. As a business owner days like this will happen, but your time and your workload is a far too valuable to get sidetracked for an entire morning. Keeping a to-do list (digital or paper) will help you stay focused on the tasks at hand. If something happens that you think you need to tend to, you can look at your to-do list and decide if there is something more important you need to do. This is where the to-do list comes in handy; you can decide if this “event” or an item on your to-do list is something a trusted team member can accomplish.
Automate Your Processes:
Today there is a tool to automate just about anything you want. You can have an AI powered assistant answer your emails and schedule your appointments; you can automate your sales emails, your social media marketing, your billing, etc. just to name a few. Go through your schedule and pull out the daily tasks you can have working without you, or at least without your constant attention.
Say “No” More Often:
This may be the hardest part about delegating, as a business owner you’ve always known every detail of your business inside and out. You’ve always gone to every meeting, spoken to every client, and done anything that’s ever been asked of you to push your business forward. Saying “no” is going to be hard, but as your business grows, it won’t be possible for you to continue doing everything. Look at your calendar, look at your to-do list and evaluate each situation to optimize your availability.
Limit Email Time:
We’ve all been there, down the rabbit hole of our inboxes. You know that gut wrenching feeling you get if you don’t look at your email the minute one comes in, or the fear that you may miss something important. Or worse, you find yourself responding to emails that don’t have anything to do with the tasks you need to accomplish today. Structuring a set time to check emails, as you would any other task, will help you prioritize the emails you need to deal with. If you don’t have the bandwidth to answer all of your emails forward some lower priority emails to a trusted employee and have them respond because you still want to answer all your emails within the gold standard 24 hours.
Take A Break:
There is no better encouragement to increase delegation than going on vacation. Yes, even as a business owner, it’s helpful to give your brain a break and have some fun. Plan a trip with your family or your friends to get you on track to the live the life you started your business to have in the first place. Start small with a long weekend and work up for a week or longer vacation as you gain more confidence in your employees running the ship without you.
I am not saying that delegating is easy, it isn’t, but it can be the difference between growing your business with employees you trust or staying stagnant because you’re the only person in your company that can do business-critical tasks and make real decisions.