Owning your own business is in many ways like raising a child – there’s a reason a lot of business owners refer to their business as their baby. We nurture them. We develop them. We grind for them, and they become a fundamental part of not just our lives, but our identity. They also say it takes a village to raise a child. And as most business owners will attest to, being responsible for every component of establishing, running and growing a business is nothing short of impossible. There are simply too many work tasks.
Ultimately, there will come a time, sooner or later, where you will have to let go of certain parts of your business and its operations. And it is one of the hardest things that business owners do.
Figuring out which areas to let go of
When your plate isn’t just full, but the table it sits on is overflowing, it’s time to start delegating some work tasks. The first step to learning how to let go of things is to identify which things make sense to let go of. There are hundreds if not thousands of micro, small, medium, and gigantic jobs to do in your business. And so the first step is to map out which ones serve you most and least as an entrepreneur and business owner.
The beauty of owning your own business is that you get to hand pick which aspects of it you want to focus more and less on.
Of course there’s a financial component to this. But if your business is growing so big that you can’t manage its work tasks anymore, it’s probably because you’re turning a solid profit.
Write down all the different areas that are necessary for your business to go around, and then populate each area with the work tasks that fill up your week. Circle the tasks that you enjoy the most, as well as the work tasks you have to do. Your services and client work will obviously go on the tasks you need to do – and are hopefully part of the tasks you enjoy most, too.
Now underline the tasks that you dread. The ones that stress you out and you put off every single day, week or month. These are the tasks that makes most sense for you to hand over to someone else.
Finding support you can trust
We’ve already established that 99% of business owners feel a strong emotional connection to their business. And so handing parts of it over is in many ways like dropping your kid off at preschool for the first time. Trust is absolutely essential. Do yourself a favour and spend some time finding the right support for you. This isn’t just about which people are best qualified to do the job – although that should definitely be a prerequisite. This is also about finding people that you connect with. People that you feel understand your mission, who empathise with you, and who you have a good rapport with.
Make sure that you follow your gut, but that you also protect yourself in case the working relationship doesn’t go the way you’d thought. Any service provider offering business support on a retainer basis will be familiar with, and expect trial periods.
You know yourself and your business best. So make sure that you allow for a trial period that’s long enough to give the person the chance to acquaint themselves with how to best support you, but also make sure that it isn’t so long that you get stuck with someone who doesn’t give you the sense of calm handing work tasks over should do.
Remember to communicate your main pain points, openly and clearly, as well as your expectations.
And don’t forget that good business support is one in a million. So once you find the right person to handle your social media, your accounting, your admin, your calendars, or whatever you need help with, then you treat them with the same respect and trust that you are expecting in return.
The art of letting go
Once you’ve identified the work tasks you can delegate to someone else, as well as who that someone else is going to be, you’re faced with the most difficult part, in giving away a small piece of your business operations. You have to actually give it away. Business owners typically suffer from wanting to micromanage. At least in the beginning. And some of us are never able to fully detach ourselves from the work task we wanted to get rid of in the first place. There are several ways to work on this challenge. They all come down to mindset; your own perceptions.
What typically happens is we start worrying. We start worrying that something is going to go wrong, that the other person isn’t going to be able to complete the work task we’ve set them to do. And our business, or baby, will suffer for it. Letting go is definitely about practice. Here are some of the questions you can ask yourself when you find the fear and temptation to micromanage creeping in:
- What’s the worst thing that could happen, realistically?
- Why am I worried?
- What makes me think that my support person can’t do the job right?
- Are my assumptions true?
- Does it serve me to worry about these tasks that I’ve now given away?
- How would I benefit from letting go of them?
Finally, things like practising mindfulness and daily meditation can also make it easier to sort out the vastness of business work tasks in your mind. Both the ones you are still in charge of and the ones you decide to delegate to someone else.
And remember: Having to delegate work tasks is just a sign of your business growing up. It’s natural to be afraid and uncomfortable. But it’s also healthy and right to let go.