Delegation is one of the most difficult things a small business owner needs to learn how to do. For many business owners, it can be very hard to let go, especially if you're used to doing things for yourself, by yourself.
It's rewarding to build something for yourself from the ground up. And, the satisfaction of do-it-yourself success on your own terms is one of the reasons many people start their own business in the first place. But for any business to grow, there comes a time when you need to consider that the day-to-day management of your business is eating into time that could be spent on sales, clients, or billable hours. If you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed trying to get everything done on your own, it’s time to consider delegating to an assistant.
Before digging into the process of winning at project delegation, let's handle any lingering control issues.
Delegation does not mean giving up control of your business.
When you outsource tasks and projects, it can feel as if you’re giving up control of your business. In one sense, you are giving away some control because you'll be counting on someone else to reliably execute something for you. But over time and with the right virtual assistant as a partner, any fear of losing control will be alleviated. When you’re working with someone who knows what they’re doing, someone who can consistently meet or even exceed your own results, delegating will become a relief.
“The secret of success is not in doing your own work, but in recognizing the right person to do it.”Andrew Carnegie
Delegating gets the tasks that eat up time in your schedule out of your way. This will free you up to focus on other, more important tasks that earn revenue. When you delegate, you practice the necessary skills for overall business success: planning ahead, organization, communication, and teamwork. Most successful business owners and executives will tell you that learning to delegate effectively has empowered them to reach greater levels of success.
Delegation is the art of working smarter, not harder.
The Benefits of Effective Delegation
Effective delegation can be much more than just moving tedious administrative tasks off your plate. Let's dig into the benefits of of getting assistance and delegating tasks!
There are a whole host of benefits enjoyed by small business owners, entrepreneurs, and busy executives who have learned to delegate to a virtual assistant, including:
Increased time available to work on other things (or, not work at all, for a change). By delegating administrative tasks to a virtual assistant you’ll have more time available to work on the revenue focused tasks such as: making sales; connecting with existing, new, and potential clients and customers; planning your next book/product/speaking engagement/event/sale, etc. Delegating to a virtual assistant means more time for the things that are important to you.
Decreased stress levels. When you delegate repetitive tasks, projects you’re not skilled at or don’t enjoy working on, or other items that keep you too busy and overworked you’ll decrease the amount of stress in your life. In doing so you’ll also find that time off and vacations are more enjoyable because you’ll have peace of mind. Delegating to a virtual assistant frees you from the vicious cycle of stress and worry experienced by many business owners who try to do it all on their own.
Increased productivity. With all of that extra, stress-free time available to you, you’ll get more done, feel and be more creative, and approach the work you do enjoy doing with a new sense of commitment and enthusiasm. Delegating to an assistant means increased productivity on a daily basis, and in terms of long-term and future business goals.
Increased efficiency. Imagine what it would be like to have a virtual assistant who is your partner in your committed to the growth and development of your business. Even for just an hour a day! How much more work would get done? How many tasks that never seem to come to completion could you move off your to-do list? Delegating to a virtual assistant means increased efficiency in your day-to-day business operations.
You might be concerned that your business is too small to benefit from delegating tasks to a virtual assistant, or that you may not be able to find enough tasks to keep an assistant busy. But the reality is that businesses of every size can benefit from effective delegation.
Let's discuss the key steps of effective delegation, including how to identify what should be delegated and how to ensure each task is managed the way you expect.
Determining Which Tasks to Delegate to a Virtual Assistant
We’ve already stated that delegating is the art of working smarter, not harder, but effective delegation is more than assigning random tasks or dumping lingering to-do’s on a virtual assistant.
Before you can begin delegating aspects of your business administration you must determine which tasks you’ll pass on to your virtual assistant to complete. When you’re first beginning to work with an assistant, start small.
- Plan to delegate tasks that will free up measurable time in your daily or weekly schedule. Routine tasks are an ideal place to start. You might consider turning over tasks such as managing new client data, maintaining sales records, or daily social media management activities.
- Plan to delegate tasks that are not immediately time sensitive. By all means, delegate tasks with deadlines, but when you’re first practicing the art of effective delegation spare yourself the worry of an immediately crucial timeline.
- Plan to delegate tasks that don’t require you to provide access to company information, files, or processes you are not yet comfortable sharing. The whole purpose of delegating is to alleviate stress in your life, not add to it. Allow yourself a reasonable amount of time to get comfortable with delegating to your virtual assistant. This will allow you to practice the art of delegating without putting a lot at stake.
As your working relationship with your assistant matures and trust has developed, you’ll more readily delegate more important and timely sensitive tasks. Your virtual assistant will come to have a valuable perspective of your business and will be able to suggest additional tasks that they could successfully take off your plate.
Eight Steps to Winning When You Delegate to a Virtual Assistant
By following these steps each time you delegate a project or new set of tasks, you’ll ensure your requests and overall communication is clear. These steps will help you avoid misunderstandings, feel secure in handing work off to someone else, and achieve better end results.
Here are the top tips for effective delegation.
- Choose the task. Select a task that will free you up to work on other, more important things. Or, choose to delegate something that will provide a launch pad for a larger, long-term project you’ve had in mind but haven’t found the time to pull of yourself.
- Define expected results. Naturally, the more clarity you can provide about your expectations, the better the outcome will be. Give your virtual assistant more than just a task to complete, give them attainable goals to work toward.
- Provide direction. In most cases, a virtual assistant who is familiar with your business or industry won't to need too much direction. However, you'll want to be sure to share specific information your assistant will need to successfully complete the project.
- Invite feedback. After ensuring your your request and expectations are clear, you can also ask for feedback or suggestions on how the project might be (better) executed, and any other input they might have to offer. Remember, your virtual assistant is an expert in their own right and will have valuable opinions and processes of their own.
- Determine a time frame. Be sure to discuss the task’s projected time frame and any crucial deadlines. Keep in mind that your virtual assistant likely has other clients besides you! Ensure expected turnaround times are realistic for both of you.
- Recap. Once all of the information has been shared and discussed, briefly recap together on what will be done, how it will be done, and when it will be done. This will help uncover any remaining questions that need to be addressed.
- Let go. Congratulations! You’ve just delegated a task that was otherwise going to eat up your schedule, and created more time for yourself to focus on something else. Now, let your virtual assistant run with it.
If you’ve chosen a competent service provider and provided clear instructions and expectations, you can now anticipate a successfully completed project.
- Express gratitude. Everyone appreciates positive feedback from their clients. If the project is delivered as expected (or better) and on time, let your virtual assistant know that recognize and appreciate a job well done.
When you’re ready to make an investment in the growth and success of your business, you’re ready to hire a virtual assistant and begin delegating!