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Approx time to read: 6 minutes

Key Take Aways:

  • Businesses which employ one or two people in the first few years are more likely to survive and succeed than those which don’t
  • The ability to delegate is a key factor in successfully employing staff.
  • There are four common reasons business owners give for not delegating: I don’t know how, I don’t have time, I can’t afford it and I don’t know where to start.
  • Explains why these all boil down to not having the tools to delegate effectively.

Studies show the ability to delegate tasks to a growing team is one of the central ingredients of business success. Entrepreneurs who are able to employ even one or two people in the first few years of business growth to help share the load are far more likely to succeed and survive than those who continue to try and go it alone.

However, developing the skill of delegation can be challenging for business owners because it’s very, very difficult to let go. For many, their ability to cover such a wide range of tasks is a point of pride, and if you’re like most other entrepreneurs, you likely enjoy the challenge and variety. There’s also the more pressing concern that a growing business actually needs the work to be done well. Your customers expect it and your business reputation depends on it.

But at the end of the day, you know and I know that keeping your thumb in every pie doesn’t serve you, your business or your team. Every business owner wants to have more time, more productivity, and more profits. They want to enjoy the relief, the clarity and the freedom of knowing the weight of the world does not have to rest permanently on their shoulders.

Being able to delegate effectively will result in all of these benefits! It’s safe to say that despite their pride in a job well done, their love of variety, or the need to maintain high business standards, the vast majority of business owners want to master the art of delegation. There is one simple reason why they don’t move forward with this, but there are three stories I hear consistently which cover up this one truth. Have you heard these ones before?:

I Don’t Know How

Business owners say they don’t delegate well because they don’t know how. This is certainly understandable given that most business owners are experts in their field. In fact 70% of all businesses were started because the owner wanted to turn their unique expertise into a profitable enterprise for themselves and their loved ones. Most business owners know they are the best at delivering their products and services. Passing on those exceptional abilities to someone else can be very difficult.

But even the expert business owner must see the value in delegating all of the “non-expert” jobs that need to be done to keep the business humming along. If the owner dedicated themselves to raising up new trainees to do what they don’t need to do themselves, their time, and profitability in turn, would be freed up immeasurably. (And dare I say it, there is always a way to find another highly skilled and capable person to do a perfectly acceptable version of what you do … but that’s a topic for another day … ).

I Don’t Have Time

Business owners also say they don’t delegate well because they don’t have the time. Getting someone else to do the work takes too long, it ends in mistakes, and it has you chasing jobs around like a mad person! It can be tedious, time consuming and downright frustrating to train someone when you barely have enough time to do the work yourself.

But if you were confident that your efforts to delegate more work would be effective enough to genuinely inject more time back into your week, I suspect you would make the time to set it up. This is the wise investment that the owners of growing businesses make. Saying “I don’t have the time” is really masking the real reason why those jobs stay in the hands of the business owner.

I Can’t Afford It

Another common reason business owners give to explain why they don’t delegate is that they can’t afford it. Their way of thinking says you can’t pay another person to work for you when you can barely pay yourself. Any spare funds you can scrape together go right back into building the business. How could you take someone on at this point?

This reason seems very much like the “I don’t have time” one to me. If you could exchange $50 to get $100 back, you would be crazy not to, right? If you could pay another person to do five or ten hours of low level work so that you could have that time to do more of the work that boosts your profits, this would make delegation a solution to your money problem. If this is true, then you can’t afford NOT to delegate.

I Don’t Know Where To Start

The final reason business owners say they don’t delegate is that they don’t know where to start. This makes perfect sense. Without delegating effectively, there’s no time or head space to figure out the best jobs to get help with. If you’re snowed under with more work than you can possibly do in a day, spending just 5 or 10 minutes to plan the best tasks to hand over seems like a luxury in time you simply can’t afford.

But when you think about it, this again is another kind of false logic …  If spending 5 minutes could get you back 50, isn’t that the best thing a busy business owner could do with their limited time? In my experience, what Benjamin Franklin said is true: “For every minute spent organising, an hour is earned.”

Business owners say all of these things to explain why they don’t delegate. This reflects a horrible conflict because studies show that most business owners actually believe that delegation is a vital tool of growth. How can we resolve this tension? If you really don’t know how to pass work on to someone to help, if you really don’t have time or money to delegate, and really don’t know where to start, does this mean you are one of the unlucky ones who will never get to enjoy the benefits of delegating?

Fortunately No! … because none of these reasons actually explain why business owners don’t delegate. Well what is the real reason, you ask? It’s because they …

Don’t Have The Tools

If you don’t have the resources you need to hand work over to another team member, you will always be tied to doing that work yourself. Most business owners know from experience that their staff don’t work as well as they do. It’s true … people can’t “just know” anything. If they haven’t been shown, supervised, trained, and supported with quality resources, your staff can’t possibly do a good job of lightening the load for you.

But like your staff, you can’t “just know” how to make this happen either. If you knew how to get your team picking up more of the slack, wouldn’t you have done it already? Time and time again I see business owners who want to enjoy the benefits of delegation, but they say they don’t know how, they don’t have the time or money, or they don’t even know where to start.

The answer lies in developing the tools you need to delegate. If you have checklists, instructions, videos and support resources to hand over the bulk of the work to another helper, you would suddenly know how to delegate because you would have what you needed to start! I suspect you’d find the time pretty quickly and I even think you’d be able to scrape a budget together to come up with the funds to make it happen.

Having a suite of in-house tools and resources to get your team running on autopilot would give you clarity and focus. It would put more time back in your day which would give you the opportunity to use your professional expertise to fatten up your bottom line.

Ultimately, it would not only get you and your team moving in flow again, but it would raise the value of your business asset exponentially. Mastering the art of delegation is the secret sauce of limitless growth. When you can replicate you can duplicate. When you can duplicate you can multiply. Multiply your staff, to multiply your output, to multiply your sales, to multiply your customers, to ultimately multiply your wealth.

How much would this be worth to you?

This article first appeared in The Operation Verve Blog on 23 Sept 2019

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