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As a small business owner, identifying your priorities on any given day is an ongoing challenge. With so many tasks calling for your attention, it may seem impossible to handle them all—especially during periods of rapid growth, such as when transitioning out of the startup stage. How can you figure out where your time is best spent and when should you consider hiring or outsourcing tasks instead of doing them yourself? Here are four questions to ask yourself so you can better make that decision and decide when to turn to delegation in business.
1. Is the task essential to your business’s competitive advantage? Functions that are critical to setting your business apart should be kept in-house—they’re too important to outsource. However, as your business grows, volume will require you to transition some of these duties and really turn to delegation in business. You’ll need to hand things over to your employees instead of handling them all yourself. For example, if you have a consulting business, clients may feel that meeting with you personally and accessing your expertise is critical to the value of your service. Eventually, handling every client yourself won’t be practical, since there are only so many hours in a day. Instead, you can gradually add other consultants to your team and reduce your involvement with clients. For instance, you could personally meet with clients for the initial meeting, once a quarter and at the end of the relationship. In between, another consultant could handle most of the work. This keeps clients satisfied while also enabling you to grow your clientele.
2. Is the task part of your skill set? Small business owners wear many hats, especially in the startup stages. The consultant above might find herself handling marketing and advertising, for example, even though she has no experience in this area and struggles to do a good job. Tasks that you aren’t good at are excellent prospects for delegation in business since an experienced marketing consultant or freelancer could likely handle them much faster and do a better job.
3. Is the task worth your time? There are two ways to assess this. The first is to look at your time in terms of dollar value. For instance, if the consultant charges $300 an hour for consulting services and is still handling her own bookkeeping and invoicing, she might find that a freelance bookkeeper could do this for $30 an hour. Clearly, it’s not worth her time to work on a $30 an hour task when she could be doing a $300 an hour service. The second way is to look at your time in terms of value to the business. For instance, the owner of a janitorial service might have to start out cleaning buildings himself. Ultimately, though, his time will bring more value to the business if he focuses on strategic planning, reaching out to prospective clients and otherwise figuring out how to grow the business. This business owner should hire employees to handle the actual cleaning as soon as possible.
4. Is the task something you enjoy? Last, but not least, consider what you love to do. Many entrepreneurs start businesses because of a passion, only to find as the business grows that they no longer do any of the things they love. For instance, suppose you start a gourmet pie shop because you love baking. As the shop grows, you hire employees to handle the baking so you can focus on strategic planning, management, and marketing. But you don’t have a passion for any of those things, so you’re miserable. In this situation, consider delegation in business and start hiring or outsourcing some tasks (perhaps hiring a manager and outsourcing marketing) so you have more time to spend testing new recipes. You’ll renew your passion for the business and also be able to explore new growth areas.
In the end, deciding whether to hire or outsource isn’t a cut and dried issue, but one that requires weighing many factors. Making the right decision will pay off in more time for you, more satisfaction with your business and ultimately, more success. You need people to grow and you need to make sure you’re always free to think at the highest level. Delegation in business is never easy, especially as a small business owner, but it is crucial for any business to expand.