Updated: Apr 16
When you started your business, did you always dream of the only team member being you? It's most unlikely that you did. Most people starting a business dream of having people take care of their empire whilst they lounge on a white sandy beach somewhere. Sadly, that hardly ever happens.
One of the main reasons business owners end up working 24/7 and never get the time to feel the sand beneath their feet, is because at some point they reach a fork in the road and realise it's time to delegate. Only the brave take the path to delegation whilst many others struggle on, very often not progressing the way they intended to do when they started out.
The reason this happens is fear. Fear of letting go and someone not doing things the way you do. Fear of spending money. Fear of having your reputation ruined. The first step in the art of delegation is getting over this fear. There are no two ways about it, if you want to grow, you will need to take a leap of faith and delegate, it's the only way. That doesn't mean you have to be gung-ho about it. There is plenty you can do to ensure you find the right person for the job.
Plan your finances properly, look at your outgoings and see what you can afford to pay someone, initially, it might not be very much, or you might not be able to give them very many hours, but don't worry about that now. This is just the beginning, there's room to grow those hours and that hourly rate as you grow, which you will do as you start to free up your time through delegation.
Virtual Assistants are extremely useful in these early stages of business because you can usually dictate how many hours you give them. You might not be able to dictate the hourly rate, but taking their hourly rate into consideration will tell you how much time you can afford to pay them for. I wouldn't advise using family members if you can help it, this can often be more trouble than it's worth. Depending on how committed you plan to be to your new employee, you could even consider an apprentice. The UK Government currently has a great scheme available called Kickstart that could be worth researching.
Once you have decided you are ready to delegate, it's time to plan what jobs you want your new helper to do for you. I recommend using my VA Task sheet as a handy guide, even if you're not taking on a Virtual assistant. Head over to my homepage and fill in your email address to get one sent out to you. Use the sheet to add one task that you do every day you would like to delegate to someone else, and the time it usually takes for you to complete. The sheet then explains how much time you could save each week by outsourcing to someone else.
It's always a good idea to start off with just one or two tasks you want off your hands, to begin with. This will help you to build up trust between you and whoever is coming on board to help you. If you're taking on someone that works remotely, set up a video call so that you can communicate effectively, and have some sort of plan that you want to get across. This will cut out any rambling which will just confuse you and your potential worker.
The best way to prepare your explanation for delegation is to write it down, preferably in an email. Send this to your VA, apprentice, or whoever will be helping you, before you meet them, to give them chance to process what you want and to ask questions. If you're clear about what you want, what you are trying to achieve, and your goals, you will get to work together much faster and end up building trust much quicker.
The next step in the art of delegation is to allow the person helping you to learn. Notice the word 'allow' there? There's no point in bringing someone in if you're going to be watching over their shoulder all the time, or completely taking over. One thing you need to get into your head from the very beginning is that your chosen person may not follow the same processes as you, they may do things their own way, and that's ok. As long as the job gets done you have to allow people to find their own flow. Hell, they might even find a better method than you have! Just make sure you're approachable so they can ask questions in the early days.
For me, one of the best reasons for hiring a Virtual Assistant is because you can't crawl all over their work. You have no choice but to trust them and to allow them to get on with it. Don't get me wrong, I haven't forgotten about your fear of someone cocking things up so monumentally it ruins your reputation. There are some simple things you can do about this. In the early days, screen all emails before they go out, check newsletters and blog posts before they are published, follow up with your clients with courtesy calls to see how things are going. It may seem odd to add more work to your plate when the end goal is to give you more time, but in the early days, unless you have immediate unwavering trust in the person you are delegating to, it's a necessary evil to spend a little time checking their work, until they are fully onboarded and you have a firm understanding between you.
Once you have established a relationship and working pattern with your new worker, you can start concentrating on growing your business by following new leads and goals you haven't been able to up until now.
Make sure you give things time, at least a month at the very least. Don't expect to suddenly find yourself with heaps of time right away, in fact, in the early days you might even have less time as you commit to training your new worker and checking on their work. However, as you grow and feel more comfortable, you can delegate more tasks and perhaps even take on more workers to delegate to. Over time the process becomes easier, and before you know it, you'll be sitting at a beach bar micro-managing everything from your phone whilst you sip on a Tequila Sunrise. That's the dream, right?