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Loosen Up

You and your business may be tight, but a little delegation can go a long way.

Lucy, a local caterer, wanted to expand her company but was overwhelmed by the number of business tasks involved. Her biggest fear was that she would have to obtain capital and input from outside investors. Even though Lucy was an extraordinary chef, she felt that such business decisions were beyond her experience and capabilities.

One of Lucy's bakers explained to her that partnering with outside parties wasn't her only option for growth. He said she could expand her business by sharing specific responsibilities with other team members. So rather than let the fear of losing control stop her, Lucy agreed.

Lucy analyzed the key aspects of her business and chose a trusted employee to take charge of expanding her corporate accounts. To her surprise, the strategic risk paid off--the employee brought in more business than Lucy could've imagined.

Often, you are the biggest obstacle to obtaining your goals. New entrepreneurs frequently block their own success by micromanaging and trying to tackle too many enormous tasks on their own. Galvanize your business ideas by taking calculated risks and investing in the knowledge of those close to you. Also:

  1. Act like a mogul. Most legendary business pioneers accepted that they could not build a great business by themselves. They realized that seeking guidance from people with experience enabled them to approach challenges with a new perspective. Learn to maximize the potential of the people you work with. Be straightforward with them, and don't be afraid to ask for their help when you need it. Your interest in their opinions will inspire them to devise creative solutions.
  2. Be willing to give up control. We entrepreneurs perform at our best when we have to think creatively and discover new answers to challenges. But growing a business requires proficiency in specific skills that not all of us possess. Use your best judgment to delegate tasks that aren't suited for your abilities to trusted colleagues and employees. Having a top-quality team can lesson the burden on you so you can focus on new ways to grow your business.
  3. Strategically experiment. Be a leader by encouraging the people around you to take on new responsibilities. Pick the areas of your business that you feel you must control and find responsible employees to handle the rest. After assigning specific tasks to others, give them the autonomy to prove what they can do. By giving employees more responsibilities, your confidence in your ability to successfully delegate will grow, as will your employees' satisfaction and pride in their work.
  4. Share your vision with your team. Relinquishing control is easier when your employees share your vision for your business's future. Nurture team spirit so employees feel invested in your business and give their best. Those who understand your goals will help you see challenges in a new light and offer solutions you might not have considered. In today's interconnected society, depending on other people is crucial to success. People with diverse backgrounds, experiences and perspectives will create a strong foundation for your company on which you can build. Delegating responsibilities will emancipate you from the daily grind and allow you to find new strategies to grow your business.

Romanus Wolter, aka "The Kick Start Guy," is author of Kick Start Your Success and Kick Start Your Dream Business. Write to him at romanus@ kickstartguy.com.

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This article was originally published in the June 2008 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Loosen Up .

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