By Sherry Lutz Herrington
Running a small business means wearing a lot of hats. Do you remember the UPS Store commercial that says “if you’re CEO, you’re Chief Everything Officer”? I met a small business owner last week who has that title on her business card.
It’s so true and yet it’s a bit of a trap.
When you first start a business it is quite likely that you will be handling it all. You are both head cook and chief bottle washer, as the saying goes. Don’t get stuck in the trap of thinking it will always be that way.
As any business grows, it is paramount that a strong leader learns to both delegate and outsource. Sometimes one works better than the other but there is a place for both. Sometimes they work in conjunction with one another.
Obviously, there are parts of your business that are critical for you to perform. You are the face of the company. You may be the main producer of your service, or you may be the only one who can put together proposals. Figuring out what you and only you can do is a big first step.
I have a saying up on my wall. It reminds me to focus on the parts of the business that only I can do:
“What are you doing that you SHOULDN’T be doing?
What are you NOT doing that you should be doing?”
As the CEO, it is easy to think you must do it all. In reality, if you want to grow and succeed, you can’t and shouldn’t think this way.
List everything you’re doing and divide it into two parts: those things which only you can do, and everything else.
Once you have your list of everything else, then figure out what you’re ready to let someone else handle.
It can be hard to delegate when you have no employees.
You may need to learn to outsource work first as a way of delegating. If you are overwhelmed with administrative tasks, consider finding a quality VA (virtual assistant). It may be the quickest, least expensive way to get help. Try it out and see if you can find a way to narrow your focus a bit at a time.
Look at the list of things you shouldn’t be doing and identify the things you don’t like doing.
If you are terrible at marketing or accounting, then finding someone to take that responsibility can be a huge relief. Not only is that person likely to be better at it than you are, but they probably will be faster, too.
I’ve met small business owners who are often afraid to outsource because they are worried about the cost.
In the long run, you will save money because you will be free to do more high value work.
Once you are comfortable outsourcing, you will be surprised at how easy it is to delegate. Then you may decide that you are ready for an employee.
Finding an employee to delegate money-generating work to will leverage your time and help you earn more money than doing it alone.
Having more hands to create your product or service allows you to sell more, whether that’s billable time or quality products.
Think about building a house by yourself versus having a team help you. You may decide that you are more efficient and can build more houses in a year if you manage a support team. It may consist of both outsourced help and hired help. If you are a general contractor, then having a team that can frame out the building and handle most of the general construction will help you save time and money.
Outsource the specialty parts like plumbing or electrical to other highly skilled or trained tradespeople. The work gets done more quickly and is better quality than having a non-specialist handle it.
This combination allows you, as the owner, to lead the entire project but still focus on customer service and bringing in new business.
Trying to be Chief Everything Officer can not only be exhausting, but it can be inefficient.
Don’t limit your mindset, thinking you have to do it all. This mindset will keep your business from growing and it may lead to your burn out. I think small business owners have a certain pride in doing it all. Letting go is healthier.
Remember, there is no shame in asking for help and learning to let others support you in your vision.
You will be pleasantly surprised how quickly your business takes off after you learn to delegate and outsource. Letting go is a hard thing for most entrepreneurs to learn to do, but it can be the one thing that most quickly brings you more success.
Outsourcing and Delegating
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at email@example.com.