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Trust Your Team

Don't be afraid to delegate. You'll empower and inspire your employees--and make the most of your own time, too.

Many people become entrepreneurs to break away from the control that corporations exert on employees. They leave the 9-to-5 business world excited to set their own agendas and schedules. But the truth is, our entrepreneurial endeavors can end up ruling us, making us their servants.

Being anything other than totally consumed by your business takes steadfast resolve. After all, the success of your business lies squarely on your shoulders. Every decision seems strategic and urgent. It's natural to want to micromanage everything, from creating new marketing materials to fixing the fax machine.

To succeed, you need time to think as well as act. Allow yourself to enjoy your work and take advantage of new opportunities by learning how to successfully manage your time and delegate whenever possible.

1. Complete vital tasks during your peak performance periods. Managing the time when you're most efficient is essential for success. Increase your productivity by completing the most important tasks during the time of day that your energy is highest. Schedule more routine tasks such as checking e-mails or conducting follow-up calls during the times when you are less productive.

2. Prioritize and define your success action steps. Carry a binder with you for three days and make notes of the steps you take to complete major business tasks. Anytime you complete an assignment you feel someone else could be doing, note the task and its associated actions. Your action list provides a protocol for others to follow and also helps you accomplish routine tasks more efficiently.

3. Conduct a "delegation test run." Choose a priority area that contains manageable tasks and a specific, immediate result. Assign that responsibility to an employee or a part-time contractor. You can engage a CPA to do your bookkeeping or a graphic designer to improve your marketing image. Incorporate time-tables into the list of duties, so you can learn how comfortable you are with relinquishing some responsibilities to others.

4. Be sure those you hire fit your personality and needs. Share your action list during the interview process. Then ask potential hires how they would improve the process to accomplish these tasks. Their answers provide insight into how they think and work. Listen carefully to their viewpoints and methodology. If their style frustrates you during the interview process, it will most likely create roadblocks later on.

5. Allow the people you hire to be entrepreneurial. Set your associates up for success by making sure they clearly understand your goals and what you feel their role should be in attaining those goals. Then let them own their task and design a personal plan for accomplishing their duties. Share your secrets, tips and strategies, but allow them to work independently and be ultimately responsible. This personal ownership of the project produces amazing results and puts time back on your calendar.

Actions speak louder than words. Increase your team's motivation by delegating with confidence and believing in other people's abilities. When you trust employees, they become open to discovering creative solutions and getting more tasks accomplished. Ultimately, these steps give you the time you need to have fun while accomplishing both your personal and business objectives.

Speaker and consultant Fomanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Dream Business.

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This article was originally published in the November 2006 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Trust Your Team.

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