As a business owner, it would be almost unnatural not to feel a strong sense of personal connection to your company. You’ve built it up from scratch. Put months – years – of hard work into it. Taken risks for it. Perhaps quit a stable job to pursue your passion, your dream, your calling. Some say your business is your baby. Others are more pragmatic. And you could also think of it as a carefully tended garden.
As your garden grows, you will eventually, at some point or another, find yourself in need of gardening help. Therein lies one of the biggest and most difficult lessons you’ll face as an entrepreneur: delegating responsibility for your precious work tasks that you’ve gotten so accustomed to dealing with yourself.
Begin with the effect
Many entrepreneurs will push delegation ahead of them with the simple excuse that it’ll take too much time to train someone – and that this someone (the extra gardening hand, if you will) won’t be able to do it as well as them anyway. If this is the case for you, it might be a good idea to begin with working out the effect of hiring a spare pair of hands
What will your day look like with someone to help out?
You might have more time to spend with your family. Some down time before your evening activities. Less stress, and an easier time prioritising self-care. The capacity to take on more clients and make more money. What is the effect of delegating away some of the responsibility? What does that reality look like?
A good exercise here is to envision your dream workday scenario. If you could have it any way you wanted – extra sprinkles and cherries on top, too – how would it be? When you begin to map out the perfect day, the work tasks you could do without start becoming apparent fairly quickly.
Make a list of these tasks. They are, in fact, your responsibility-delegating roadmap. These are the plants and shrubberies and tool purchases and pruning jobs someone else can do for you. Or, in entrepreneur speak: The social media posts, the accounting, the scheduling, the blog publishing and the CRM.
There are always things we wouldn’t mind not doing. We just have to be brave enough to find someone else to actually do them for us.
Follow with the cause
The cause in this scenario is the person you might be able to delegate some of your responsibilities to. That perfect pruner or amazing arborist. Generally speaking, this is the step entrepreneurs have the hardest time with. Letting go is actually the biggest challenge in giving away parts of your garden to another keeper.
There may well be tasks that fill you with dread and horror. You may well know exactly which ones they are, too. But parting with them? That’s a whole other story. You may hate the accounts or the sales follow-ups.
Still, they’re part of what’s made your business what it is today. How can anyone else possibly handle them with the same care and understanding as you do?
Thing is, no one can. To begin with. But the right person will. If you give them the resources to do so, they may even be able to handle these work tasks better than you did initially. In fact, when you find the right person to delegate responsibility to – they should get better than you were.
Make sure that your values align with the person you’re handing your job over to. They’re going to help cultivate something that’s precious to you. That also makes it crucial that you’re on the same page in terms of what’s important in the big scheme of things and what’s not.
The painful hand-over
Imagine a person painstakingly and over-carefully handing a pot of prized orchids over to someone else. Can you see the doubt on their face? The ingrained look of horror and dismay at this other person taking on those gorgeous flowers?
It’s definitely painful letting go of work tasks you’ve built from scratch in your business. It’s also completely necessary.
When you find yourself mid-act in delegating responsibility to someone else, you’ll be wise to revisit your effects list. Remember that magnificent, gorgeous, dream day at work? That’s the one you need to remind yourself of when you feel doubtful and insecure. As long as you’ve found someone who’s qualified and whose values align with your own, you’ve got nothing to worry about.
It might be a bit of a bumpy ride at first. That’s to be expected. But it’ll smooth out. And you’ll be one step closer to your perfect day.
Things I do to delegate responsibility more effectively in my business
- I invest in a VA on a monthly basis. She is amazing and we’re aligned in terms of values and goals for our work together.
- I am mindful of tasks that take me longer than they should – and always evaluate whether there is a realistic way of getting help in completing them.
- I do quarterly audits of the work tasks I need help with, and fill in the gaps where possible.
Good luck with your responsibility delegation! Remember that with the right help to tend it, your business/garden will only get more beautiful.