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Every entrepreneur with a growing business will face this dilemma at some point: There’s more to do than hours in the day. You started your business lean, doing everything yourself, but this doesn’t seem feasible anymore if you want to keep growing.  

Eventually, you realise that it’s time to start delegating. This is a big step for every business owner and easier said than done. Delegation done right can make you more productive than ever and help your business grow to new levels. But done wrong, you could end up with even more on your plate, plus a few customer complaints. 

We’re here to help! In this blog post, you’ll learn what can be so difficult about delegation and a straightforward step-by-step process to deciding what to delegate. Let’s get to it.

Why you might struggle to delegate 

Most entrepreneurs know deep down that delegating work is the only right choice to make at some point. But you might hold some internal biases, consciously or unconsciously, that are still holding you back. Here are the three most common ones and how you can tackle them. 

Fear of losing control

We get it. Your business is “your baby”, and it can feel scary to let go of certain parts. When someone else works on your business, you might fear that your company will develop in a different direction than you had envisioned. It’s natural to feel that way. However, giving up a certain amount of control is a normal part of owning a business. And you already know that. What you can do is pick your team carefully, share your vision for the business, and then trust them to run with it.

Fear of dropping the ball 

Your parents might have told you at some point: The best way to get something done right is to do it yourself! Well, this is pretty crappy advice for business owners, to be honest. Many entrepreneurs pride themselves for their high standards and quality of work they do for their ideal clients. You might think that you’re still the best at your job and fear that others could produce inferior work that your clients won’t be happy with. To overcome this, it’s critical to decide what to delegate. And that’s what we’ll discuss next. 

Fear of the costs 

If you’re a bootstrapped startup, focused on running lean, it’s tempting to try to minimise costs as much as possible. That’s why you might have shied away from hiring someone full-time or even bringing a freelancer on board. However, also this has a cost associated with it – the value of your own time. If you can delegate work for less total cost than you’d spend doing it yourself, then this might be the right thing to do. 

How to decide what to delegate

“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, American author

When you follow our 5-step process, you can be confident that every task in your business will be done by the right person or system for the job (or not at all because it can be eliminated). 

Step #1: Create an inventory of your current tasks 

To determine which tasks you can delegate, you’ll first need to know what tasks you’re currently doing. Let’s create an inventory. For one week, keep a notepad next to you while you work and note down each task as you do it. This could be a simple list like this:

  • Schedule a meeting with a prospect via email 
  • Create an invoice for a client
  • Send the invoice to the client via email
  • Write a new blog post 
  • Call a prospect to follow up on the last conversation

A basic list will work just fine for this exercise. But if you’d like to go more advanced, you can use free time-tracking apps like Clockify or Toggl to register all your tasks and track exactly how much time you spend on each. This can be eye-opening because we easily over- or underestimate the time we spend on certain things. 

Step #2: Identify tasks to eliminate entirely

“Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.”

Jessica Jackley

Now, let’s take a first critical look at your list of tasks. You’ll want to weed out the tasks first that you actually don’t need to do at all. How do you identify those? Here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Does this task add value to my clients? Example: Coaching a client one-on-one
  • If the task doesn’t add value for clients, is it at least something that I have to do to keep the business running? Example: Accounting and Taxes
  • Will doing this task help me run and grow the business that I want to have? Example: Attending a conference to meet your ideal clients

If the answer is “no” to the above questions, then it might be time to stop doing the task. That doesn’t mean that you have to eliminate it entirely. Maybe you’ll find that some tasks don’t produce the results you had hoped for. Then you could put them on hold for a while until you’ve found a new approach or a different strategy. For example, Facebook ads that are currently not performing well. 

Step #3: Identify tasks that only you can do

In this step, we’re looking for the things that set your business apart and give you your competitive edge – the few tasks that you can do better than anybody else. For example, if you’re a coach or consultant, one-on-one coaching time or mapping out a strategy for your clients is something that only you can and should do. That’s what your clients hire you for because they trust that you’re the best person for the job. 

Depending on where you are with your business, this might also change over time. Maybe you are bringing on other consultants and train them to take over a big part of your engagements. Then you might only focus on lead generation and business development. Until you grow further and hire a separate business development manager in which case you’ll oversee all activities as the CEO. 

Step #4: Consider automating tasks 

By now, you should be left with the tasks that can be either delegated or automated. It’s important to distinguish between the two. Automation means that a task will be completed by software, in the background, even while you’re sleeping. Delegation means giving it to another person. 

For entrepreneurs, it often makes sense to automate before delegating. The software for this purpose will come for a fraction of the cost that you’d spend on a freelancer or even full-time hire performing the same tasks. CRM tools like Infusionsoft by Keap are the first choice to automate marketing and business processes, like sending follow-up emails, creating invoices, and collecting payments. Any tasks that repeat for each prospect or client are perfect candidates for automation. 

Step #5: Decide on the tasks to delegate

For every task that’s still left on your list, you now face the question if it would be worth delegating it. If a task falls in one of the below categories, you have a strong case for delegation.

Anything you simply hate to do 

There’s no point forcing yourself to do tasks that you really can’t stand (Taxes, anyone??). Handing off these tasks will help you keep your drive and enthusiasm. After all, you want to start every day excited and motivated about what you’re going to achieve today. That’s one reason why you became an entrepreneur in the first place, right?

Tasks in areas with often-changing regulations 

Accounting and taxes are the best examples here. The rules change so often that it would be your full-time job to keep your knowledge up-to-date. Better outsource these tasks to an expert. Also, because making a mistake might be very costly. 

Tasks that are out of your area of expertise and you don’t have time and interest in learning 

You simply can’t be an expert in everything. Sometimes it can be fun and rewarding to dip your toes into a new field and get to a good enough level that you don’t have to hire someone. But if you don’t have the time or interest, then you’ll be better off hiring an expert. For example, you could hire a professional graphic designer instead of trying to piece together your own design in Canva

Tasks that you’re simply not good at (even if you’d like to be) 

We all have strengths and weaknesses. Contrary to popular opinion, it might be more beneficial for you to double-down on our strengths instead of trying to fix your weaknesses. That means it’s perfectly ok to outsource what you’re not good at. 

Tasks that you want your team to learn

If you already have a team, then one of the best ways for them to learn is to let them perform tasks themselves. Of course, this needs trust and some courage on your part. There will be mistakes at some point, but that’s a normal part of the learning process.

Tasks that are already streamlined 

Once you’ve established a process that’s well documented and works like a well-oiled machine, there’s no reason why you should keep doing these tasks. Instead, you can free up your time to figure out the stuff that’s not streamlined yet.  

Tasks that you can delegate for less total cost than you’d spend doing them yourself  

First, you’ll need to know the value of your time. How much is your time really worth? Here’s a handy guide to determine exactly that. Once you’ve got a rough idea, compare the costs of doing it yourself to delegating the task. What will come out cheaper?

Tasks that you think someone else could do at least 70% as well as you do 

But 70% is still less than 100%, said the perfectionist. It might be frustrating to know that something won’t be done with the same degree of perfection that you could achieve. But as an entrepreneur, it’s time to let go of this attitude. Done is better than perfect! 

Now it’s your turn

Have you completed all 5 steps? Congrats! You’re now already so much further than most business owners. Instead of tapping in the dark, you have a complete overview of the tasks that need to get done in your business and who or what might be best to complete them. 

If you’re still unsure which tasks you could delegate or automate, we’d be happy to help. Why not jump on a call with us and we can discuss how automating your marketing and business processes can help you secure new clients and grow your business?