Learning to Delegate Tasks as an Entrepreneur
As an entrepreneur and business owner, you likely wear many hats on a daily basis – from product development to marketing to customer service and everything in between. With so many responsibilities to juggle, it can be tempting to try and tackle every task yourself. However, learning how to properly delegate is a critical skill for entrepreneurs.
Not only does it allow you to focus your time and energy on higher-level strategic tasks, but it also empowers your team, helps build leadership skills, and allows your business to scale more efficiently.
Why Should Entrepreneurs Delegate?
Delegating tasks has many benefits for entrepreneurs and small business owners:
- Saves Time and Increases Efficiency: When you hand certain jobs or projects off to someone else, you free up more time and mental energy to dedicate to high-level tasks only you can handle. This helps boost productivity.
- Leverages Team Strengths: Your team members have diverse skill sets and strengths. Delegating allows you to optimize talent and have the right people tackle the responsibilities that best fit them.
- Develops Employees: By giving team members challenging assignments with ownership and accountability, you provide growth opportunities and invest in the development of talented employees.
- Allows for Scaling: As your startup begins growing rapidly, letting go of lower-level details is crucial for being able to lead and manage a larger team and expanded operations.
- Maintains Work-Life Balance: Delegating some of your workload allows you as the business owner to better maintain a healthy work-life balance and avoid burnout down the road.
What Tasks Should Entrepreneurs Delegate?
Deciding what to delegate is often just as important as how you delegate. As a rule of thumb, aim to hand off tasks that:
- Are Routine or Repetitive: This includes daily administrative, data entry, customer service, accounting and reporting tasks that can distract you from big picture work.
- Require Specialized Skills: If there are jobs requiring expertise you lack – perhaps IT, graphic design, or HR tasks – consider outsourcing them or hiring staff to handle.
- Have Clear Processes: Standardized tasks that follow set systems, checklists or procedures can safely be assigned to others.
- Do Not Require High-Level Judgment: While strategy, vision and decision-making should stay with you initially, most execution tasks can be delegated once systems are firm.
You may want to start small by only delegating occasional tasks or minor projects. As you gain confidence in your staff’s abilities over time, you can assign them larger initiatives and oversight roles.
How to Delegate Tasks Effectively
Handing off tasks to others does not mean you fully relinquish control and accountability. For delegation to work, you have to set your team members up for success as much as possible. Some best practices include:
- Set Clear Expectations: Make sure whomever you are delegating to has all necessary background details on a project and understands what the desired deliverables or outcomes should be.
- Assign Appropriate Tasks: Assess what staff skills exist and match delegated tasks accordingly so people have the highest chance to excel in new responsibilities.
- Give Proper Authority: Empower employees by providing them the decision-making authority and access to any essential resources needed to independently accomplish delegated jobs.
- Avoid Micromanaging: It can be hard to relinquish control, but once you delegate tasks, refrain from micromanaging so your staff can take true ownership over work.
- Offer Support and Coaching: Check in regularly to provide assistance if employees need it and offer feedback on how they can continue to improve new skills.
- Show Appreciation: Recognize staff contributions and thank them for taking on challenging assignments. Praise good work frequently and publicly.
Delegation Mistakes to Avoid
While handing off responsibilities has major upsides, delegating incorrectly or to the wrong staff members can be detrimental. Some key mistakes first-time entrepreneur delegators tend to make include:
- Overloading Certain Employees: Be careful not to over-delegate to top talent. Spread opportunities around and monitor workloads carefully.
- Failing to Explain “Why”: Don’t just tell your staff what to do and when – help them understand the purpose and impact so they stay motivated.
- Not Providing Enough Training: Make sure to give team members sufficient training or resources to tackle new responsibilities you give them.
- Delegating Strategic Work: You may want to hold onto big picture strategic tasks longer before feeling comfortable delegating them to others.
- Assuming vs. Inspecting: Once you hand off work, follow up to ensure it was completed to your expected standards. Do not just assume everything went smoothly in your absence.
By learning what tasks you can reasonably delegate, picking strategic opportunities that make sense for your current team, and setting your employees up for delegation success, you can reduce daily workload as your startup scales. Just remember that delegation is an art that takes practice – expect occasional hiccups as you and your team adjust.
But once you iron out effective procedures, it allows amazing scalability. Experiment frequently to find what works best so you can focus your limited time as an entrepreneur where you add the most unique value – growing your company.