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Delegation is an important skill for any business owner to master, but it’s especially important for small business owners who have very little time and extra money to devote to bottlenecks, accidental duplication of efforts, and missed deadlines.
If you learn to delegate well, you’ll have more time to devote your energy to more important tasks, provide employment for another person, and (since it’s likely someone else can do the tasks better than you) make yourself look even more amazing due to the good choices you make.
One of the first things to do is figure out what causes you to be fearful of delegation. Usually the reasons have to do with perfectionism, self-protection, lack of a workable system in place and being unsure of which tasks to delegate.
Before you even start delegating, it’s important to set up a system of some sort - like Basecamp or another online project management system. Keep in mind some of the people you outsource to may have their own system which you can use. This is especially true of online business managers or project managers.
Go through the processes you use to do the tasks now, and write them down so that you can figure out how to streamline the processes. However, do keep in mind that contractors are mostly concerned with deliverables, so this process is more for your benefit to find out what types of things you can delegate. An example would be repetitive tasks like email management.
When you know what tasks you want to outsource, it’s important to find the right people for the job or task. To get the most bang for your buck, choose someone to do it who likes doing it, wants to do it, and considers it their expertise. In other words, don’t expect to hire someone who can do everything perfectly. Hire several people to do one or two things each perfectly.
Provide the contractor with the requirements, deadlines, scope of authority, purpose, goals and objectives, potential problems, and tools available to them (if any are needed such as passwords and sign-on information).
Open up the communication by asking the contractor if they have any questions based on your instructions. That way they won’t be worried about asking anything even if it’s "stupid." The worst thing you can do is criticize a contractor for asking a question. And of course, you need to get back to them quickly with your answers.
In many cases, contractors want you to focus more on deadlines and deliverables than too many details. How they get something done should not be as important as the result of what they got done.
As often as is practicable give feedback to your contractors. This is especially true if you would like something done differently than what they turned in but you still want to keep working with the person. Give the feedback by giving compliments on what is good, then what could be better, and finally something good again to help build up the confidence of the contractor.
The fact is, no one is perfect and contractors will sometimes misunderstand directions. As long as something isn’t blatant such as constant missed deadlines, poor quality of work and so forth, sometimes people make mistakes. If your contractors are afraid of making mistakes, sometimes it will stifle their creativity. So be open to new ideas and potential mistakes, while also being clear on your expectations.
Finally, the best way to become a master delegator is to let go and just do it. Start with something small such as outsourcing your email customer service, eBook writing, report writing, blog post writing, article writing, social media marketing, and graphic design for projects. Write a list of everything that needs to be done to launch one of your products and try to outsource as much of as you can to see how it comes together. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.
Rich Thurman’s passion is helping small businesses realize their full potential. With twenty years of real world experience in both small and large business, Rich has worked for and with both global industry leaders and small-town family-run storefronts.
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