For those of us with Type A personalities, the idea of handing off even just one of the all-important tasks that keep our worlds spinning every day may sound about as comfortable as giving away a kidney. But if you’re a solopreneur with a growing business venture, refusing to delegate may be holding you back from growth.
By delegating many of the basic day-to-day tasks that keep your business afloat, you free up your time for higher level tasks. Instead of just treading water, you’ll have time to come up with new ideas, pursue new business opportunities, and optimize your business to be the best it can be.
If you’ve considered hiring a new employee (or a virtual assistant!) to take over some of your daily responsibilities, here are six quick tips to get you started.
1. Be Honest and Open About Your Fears and Expectations
It’s okay to admit that delegating makes you nervous, but don’t panic, it will get easier! Clear communication is the first step. Although virtual assistants are capable of many things, it is likely that mind reading is not one of them.
Don’t assume that others know your preferences—instead communicate them. Does receiving emails over the weekend drive you crazy? Do you prefer text messages instead of phone calls? Does a certain type of font make you cringe? Let your assistant know!
Clearly establishing and managing expectations early on will be the key to getting more stuff done. Take the time to clarify your priorities and make sure both of you are on the same page before a task is even started. Go ahead and give it a try! Explain what you want, when you want it, and the exact outcome you expect to achieve.
2. Delegate One Small Thing At a Time
Begin your journey to becoming a boss at delegation by starting with the least critical and time sensitive tasks. This method provides low risk and a great opportunity to get your feet wet in the delegating waters.
Throughout this task check in frequently and give feedback. Expect that you will need to give more feedback at first in order to help establish your expectations. Continue adding tasks as each one is mastered.
This is where working with a virtual assistant agency can be particularly useful. Instead of hiring a part-time or full-time employee and then immediately trying to fill 20 or more hours per week with tasks, many virtual assistant agencies will allow you to start with just a few hours a week, then add hours as you become more comfortable delegating tasks.
3. Negotiate a Trial Period
There are a lot of aspects of personality and working style that are difficult to discern in an interview, meaning that even with a solid hiring process and good intentions on all sides, sometimes the first assistant you hire just won’t be the right fit.
Whether you hire an employee or work with a third party service, negotiate a one month trial period to give both parties time to test the waters. After that month, schedule a meeting to discuss what’s working, what isn’t, and decide whether to move forward with a longer term relationship.
4. Create Written Procedures
In person or virtual trainings are great, but you can easily limit mistakes and rounds of questions by having as much as possible in writing. And although the word ‘procedure’ may make you feel a bit uncomfortable, taking the time to do the hard work upfront will save you a headache in the future!
Having written procedures in place will help in the future growth of your business when transitions take place or more employees are hired. More work now equals less work later.
Our operations guru, Rebekah Hardeson, is a big fan of procedures. Check out her helpful blog for a guide to writing great procedures for the tasks you delegate.
5. Try Not to Micromanage
Every person has different ways of doing things, and your hired help likely won’t perform every task exactly the way you do. That doesn’t mean he or she isn’t doing the job well. Instead of worrying about the how, focus on the end product. Does it meet your expectations? If so, the small process differences may be worth having that task off your plate.
6. Be Open to New Ideas
As a small business owner, you probably aren’t an expert in every single aspect of running your business. You may have learned some things as you go, and there are likely still areas of your management process that have room for improvement.
At DPM, we work with a wide variety of clients—especially in the digital marketing space—so we’ve seen first hand what works and what doesn’t in a wide variety of settings. If you’re not sure of your process in a given area, we may be able to use what we’ve learned to help you optimize your business management and marketing systems.
Take stock of your weaknesses, and consider hiring someone with more experience in those areas. If you demonstrate your willingness to hear out their suggestions, you might even discover more efficient ways of doing things that create lasting impact for your business.
Learning to delegate takes time and trust. The person you’ve hired needs time to understand and then imitate what you do. You need time to develop trust in that person to do their job well. But if you’re willing to take the leap, the art of delegation can change your life and your business in amazing ways.