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Smart delegating tips

Imagine! You start a company at age 24 and by the time you're 28, it's generating more than $3 million in sales annually. Every entrepreneur's dream? Yes, but Marc Hausman, 28, president of Strategic Communications Group Inc., a Silver Spring, Maryland, marketing and public relations firm, is living it. He's grown his company from 10 to 35 employees within the past 12 months--thanks to effective delegation.

The operative word here is "effective." Every entrepreneur knows he or she must delegate to grow a business. That's a no-brainer. But a common mistake new business owners make is to delegate their passion--what drew them to start the business in the first place--in order to focus more on day-to-day administrative and managerial duties. Entrepreneurs who fall into this trap unwittingly become bottlenecks to their company's growth, spending the bulk of their time engrossed in activities they don't really enjoy and aren't especially good at.

Hausman knows this from experience. A year ago, he found himself doing mostly accounting, administration and human resources work (all of which he doesn't enjoy and admits isn't his forte), and less time meeting face-to-face with clients doing PR planning and media relations work (which he loves).

The turning point came when Hausman tried to open up a $250,000 credit line with his bank. "[The banker] told me, `You really need find a CFO, Marc, because unfortunately, you don't have the ability to manage the relationship with our bank. And we won't give you credit until you find someone who has more experience and capability,'" recalls Hausman recalls.

That's when he hired a part-time CFO, who had held a senior-level financial position with Blue Cross Blue Shield for 20 years. The CFO spearheaded several programs, allowing Hausman to spend more time doing what he loves: developing client relationships. "It took him three months to do what would have taken me at least three years to do," says Hausman.

How do you keep from being the bottleneck to your company's growth? How to delegate without dolling out your passion? We've tracked down three tips smart delegators use:

1. Know yourself. Why did you start the business in the first place? What do you love most about it? What's your core competency? (In other words, what are you really good at?) What are your limitations? The answers to these questions will help you look at yourself objectively and figure out which responsibilities to keep and which to delegate.

2. Know your staff. Take time to evaluate their strengths and limitations, likes and dislikes. Shortly after hiring the CFO, Hausman moved an existing staffer from an account management position to an operations role because of her acute attention to detail. As it turns out, she loves the new role and has taken a huge administrative burden off Hausman's shoulders.

3. Give it up! "When realized I was serious about taking this company to the next level, I had to start letting go of administrative tasks," shares Hausman. "Understand that delegating business-critical responsibilities can be a painful and difficult process...because as an entrepreneur, your natural instinct is to want to be in control. But you have to let certain things go for the sake of the business. Recognize that the people to whom you delegate responsibilities will not do it exactly the way you would--and that's OK. More often than not, they'll do it better."


Sean M. Lyden (seanlyden@mindspring.com) is the principal and senior writer of The Professional Writing Firm Inc., a Kennesaw, Georgia, company that specializes in ghostwriting articles. Lyden writes frequently on motivation, management and marketing issues.

What psychological obstacles to success are you trying to overcome? Tell us at bsumag@entrepreneur.com

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Sean Lyden is the CEO of Prestige Positioning (a service of The Professional Writing Firm Inc.), an Atlanta-based firm that "positions" clients as leading experts in their field-through ghost-written articles and books for publication. Clients include Morgan Stanley, IFG Securities, SunTrust Service Corp. and several professional advisory and management consulting firms nationwide.

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