The one where we learn to delegate
Growing your business means you need to stop trying to do everything yourself.
Hello! If you’re new here, welcome! If you’re not new here, you may have noticed a small change in the format of this newsletter. Instead of having absolutely no direction whatsoever, I decided to focus this newsletter around entrepreneurship – starting your own business, scaling it, and everything else that comes with being an entrepreneur.
This week I recorded a podcast episode for our upcoming season of the Ladybug Podcast and asked Twitter what they want to know. It turns out that the answer was a lot and there’s no way I could cover it all in a podcast unless you wanted to listen to me speak for 30 hours.
So in addition to that podcast episode (which won’t come out until September, sorry!), I’ll be using this newsletter as another means of sharing everything I know about entrepreneurship.
My goal is to take up no more than 5 minutes of your time each Friday with something to think about when it comes to growing and scaling your own business. We’re all busy. I don’t need to add yet another thing to your plate. (This preamble doesn’t count towards the 5 minutes, by the way.)
Let’s do this.
Delegation is a learned skill for most. It’s not something that comes naturally. Why spend time teaching someone to do something when I can get it done in less than half the time? What if they don’t do it exactly how I would do it?
As your business grows, you end up with more and more on your plate. Even plates at all-you-can-eat buffets only carry so much food. (Side note: I can’t imagine going to an all-you-can-eat buffet post-COVID. I just can’t.)
You may have also heard of the analogy of the jar with the rocks and pebbles. If you fill a jar with the pebbles first, you won’t have room for the bigger rocks. But if you start with the bigger rocks and then add the pebbles, they can slip through the cracks and fill in the jar around the bigger rocks.
Managing your workload is a mix of big rocks and little pebbles. Some activities are time-intensive and require more brainpower, while others are more menial tasks that just need to be done. (Yes, I also use my inbox as a bit of a to-do list. You’re not alone.)
This is why delegation is so powerful. Hand the pebbles to someone else (or a team of someones) and let them slowly fill up the jar so you can focus on getting those big rocks in place.
The first step to delegation is knowing what to delegate. Harvard Business Review has a great approach to this, what they call the 6 T’s: tiny, tedious, time-consuming, teachable, terrible at, and time-sensitive. I recommend reading the HBR article linked above for more information on each of these.
Yes, I know I’m about to give you more work to do when you’re already busy, but trust me here. This is time well-spent.
For the next 1-2 weeks, list out all of the day-to-day tasks that happen in your business as they happen.
After you’re done recording, figure out which ones you must do and can’t delegate. (I can’t delegate speaking on a podcast or doing a video interview, for example, but I don’t need to schedule meetings.) Set these aside.
From the remaining items, follow the 6 T’s rule and separate out the tasks that you are not best suited to do.
Now you have a list of tasks that could be delegated. With this in mind, you can begin looking for the right person or people to take these over. For The Taproom, my first hire was a Project Manager because I was too busy doing actual development work and struggled to keep up with client communications. For others, I think a really great place to start is with a virtual assistant. You can pay them hourly for when you need them so you don’t need to commit to a full-time job, and you can slowly offload tasks in an order that makes the most sense.
I know some have had luck finding assistants in places such as Upwork. There are also virtual assistant matching companies like Squared Away and VaVa Virtual Assistants who can match you with the right person. But check your internal network as well! You may know someone who knows someone who has administrative experience, for example, who is no longer working full-time but would like to make some extra money. All kinds of opportunities out there to find the right person.
And one final piece of advice (so I can keep this under 5 minutes), don’t rush the hiring process. Make sure you’re finding the right person for ANY role, but especially one that may require a certain level of trust if they are representing you or have access to financial data.
Until next week,