If you’re like many business owners, you view your company as your baby. You envisioned it, you created it from scratch, and you care about its future. You want to make sure everything is done just so to ensure your vision is being fulfilled. But as a small business grows, an owner that continues to keep a hand in absolutely every decision will only stymie that growth. No one person can do a good job handling every single aspect of a successful business—and trying to do so will just slow down your progress. That’s why business owners must learn to delegate.
Many entrepreneurs find it difficult to trust others to handle decisions and tasks, but doing so will free you to focus on your strengths and build a stronger business over time. “As the owner, your vision and management ability are best served when details are managed,” writes Bob Bernhard for the Oregon Small Business Development Network.
Here’s a handy guide to letting go and delegating to build a stronger business.
Determining What to Delegate
Start by figuring out which tasks are your true strengths. If you really love coming up with marketing ideas, but you don’t relish carrying out the marketing programs, you could continue working in the visionary process, but delegate the follow-through. If you excel at selling to large customers, you might want to continue meeting with customers but delegate all the account management tasks associated with sales.
In addition to looking at your strengths, think about the things that are easy to hand off. Many business owners start with back office procedures, such as bookkeeping, social media management, IT support and customer service. If you have employees, consider which duties members of your current staff could handle well. If you don’t want to hire employees, you can outsource many tasks to contract workers or freelancers such as virtual assistants, freelance writers, designers, independent bookkeepers and IT managers.
Handing Off Tasks
Once you’ve determined what to pass along, select the right person for each duty. Look for people who are competent in the areas you plan to delegate, and who are interested in taking on new responsibilities. Position these new responsibilities as opportunities for them to learn new skills and play a more important role in the company. Let the employees know that you’re doing this because you have confidence in their abilities.
But don’t turn the employees or contractors loose with the new tasks without providing clear instructions and even training, if necessary. It’s ideal to create a written task description for everything you’re delegating. That way, you know what to expect—and the employees knows exactly what’s expected of them.
After your team takes on their new tasks, it may be tempting to watch over their shoulders constantly. While it’s important to stay involved, micromanaging every step in the process is not truly delegating. Instead, make sure your team understands the outcomes you expect, but you should also give them the freedom to decide how to get it done.
Schedule a regular check-in time with each team member to see how their projects are going, recommends The Management Center. And if you’re not seeing the progress you expect, address your concerns directly so everyone gets back on track.
With successful delegation, you can empower employees and give them an opportunity to show you how they can make your business better. You’ll also be empowered—you can be relieved of the stress of routine tasks and focus on building a stronger business.