Stop Wasting Your Time and Learn to Delegate
Entrepreneur's New Year’s Guide
When you're an entrepreneur, your business is like your baby. Delegating or outsourcing tasks can sometimes be difficult because no one can do things as well as you. Right?
Wrong, says Jordan Cohen, a productivity expert at PA Consulting Group, a London-based management consulting firm: "At some point, every entrepreneur will hit a point where they can't do any more and do it well," he says.
In a study for Harvard Business Review, Cohen and Julian Birkinshaw, a professor of strategy and entrepreneurship at London Business School, interviewed executives at 39 companies in the United States and Europe and found that 41precent of their day was filled with activities that could be competently handled by others.
"We've been socialized with the idea that completing a task is an accomplishment," says Cohen. "But in today's business world, an entrepreneur's time can be better served by doing the tasks that matter most to the success of their business and delegating the rest."
Finding the right people and trusting them with your brand can feel risky. Cohen offers these three easy steps to become a better delegator:
1. Put outsourcing infrastructure in place before it's needed.
Entrepreneurs often look for help when they're time crunched or overwhelmed, but this is not the best time to find an outsourcing option, says Cohen. Instead of making decisions under stress, research good alternatives for delegating or outsourcing before you need them. For example, train staff members to take over new tasks, or find and interview consultants that you can call upon when needed.
"The more time you are able to invest in setting up your options, the more robust the solution will be," says Cohen.
2. Put delegating on your calendar.
When you review your calendar and to do list, Cohen says to look at meetings and tasks with a critical eye.
"What tasks do you have to do yourself and what could you have others do?" asks Cohen. Tasks that have low value for your customers and are time-consuming -- such as bookkeeping or administrative tasks -- are ideal tasks to outsource.
"You are in the best position to determine what you have to do," says Cohen. "Use good judgment, but don't get caught up in a way of working that isn’t productive."
3.Then test the waters.
Once you identify tasks that are good for outsourcing, start small. Cohen suggests starting with something that isn't complex or urgent. Instead, experiment with low importance things. For example, hire a graphic design firm to turn your presentation into a PowerPoint presentation -- but don't start with your most important sales pitch.
"Things rarely work perfectly the first time," he says. "The idea is to get comfortable with delegating. It takes practice, but it gets easier over time."