By Ruth Bremer
Delegate. It’s one of the most commonly heard small business tips, but how many entrepreneurs actually embrace delegation and learn how to do it well?
Delegating is kind of like exercising. You know you should do it, and you know that in the long term, it will improve your life. But it’s that darn short term that gets you every time, because you know it will be painful and difficult to get started. So each day you roll out of bed and head to the office (avoiding the gym) to do everything yourself, as usual. And at the end of the day you’re still just maintaining your business instead of implementing all those great ideas you keep having.
Also, you’re out of shape.
Look, you’re an entrepreneur, so be an entrepreneur. Maybe there was a time when you first started your business that you had to do it all, right down to cleaning the office bathroom. But if that stage has passed and you’re still holding the mop, maybe it’s time to let some things go.
Being an effective delegator means doing the things that only you can do, and letting other people do the rest. As this excellent article from Fast Company points out, though, the trick is determining which is which. In yet another application of the famous 80/20 rule, the author points out that 20 percent of your efforts yield 80 percent of your results. The key, then, is identifying which 20 percent of your work is most valuable and delegating the other 80 percent.
Now, this is going to take a little bit of time and reflection, but hey, it’s the perfect time of year for evaluation and assessment. So, think back over the past year. What were the most important and valuable tasks you completed this year that made a difference to your company’s growth? These are the types of projects you should focus on going forward.
Another way to figure out your 20 percent is to take a look at your to-do list. The article suggests reviewing each item on the list and asking yourself these questions:
- Does that activity really add value to your company?
- Are you really great at performing that task?
- Is there somebody else who can do better, as well as, or nearly as well as you at completing the task?
Cleaning the bathroom is not likely to make the list. But that’s an easy one. Some tasks will take longer to evaluate. If you’re having trouble, one final way to figure out your 20 percent is to take the opposite approach by gradually eliminating the 80 percent. You shouldn’t be performing tasks that have a low dollar value. Start with this: If you could hire someone to do it for $10 an hour, you shouldn’t be doing it.
Of course, once you’ve identified which tasks and processes you should delegate, you have to actually figure out who is going to do them. And teach those people how to do them. Whew, this delegating stuff is hard work. But stick with it, because a successfully delegated task is off your to-do list forever. Think long term, because it will be worth it in the end. With enough delegating, you might even have time to exercise.
Is blogging part of the 80 percent that you should be delegating? If so, contact us.
This story was actually written for BlogMutt a while back, but I decided to hold on to it for New Years Day, when so many people start thinking about exercising. BlogMutt customers get one post per week but they can publish them anytime because they own the content completely. While this one has a byline, your posts will not. (For more on this series, see this post.) Thanks for reading, and here’s to a healthy 2013 where you get blogging for your business blog off your “resolution” list and onto your DONE list! — Scott