There’s so much talk about outsourcing and delegation. And there’s no question that outsourcing should be a part of your overall business plan. But how do you delegate successfully so that you can make use of the economic advantages of outsourcing? In this two-part series, I’ll cover the ins and outs of successful delegation so you can stop doing the things that don’t bring in either income or joy and start doing more of what you love.
STEP #1: Figure out what you can delegate.
When I analyze my business, I look at what I’m spending my time on. Periodically, for a week or two, I’ll use a special online time timer to see how I’m spending my time- this is a tool I occasionally have my hourly contractors use- and then I go back and look at where my time went. This helps me narrow down how I’m spending my time and what things I’m spending time on that aren’t profitable. I look at the big chunks of time but I also look at the smaller chunks- a few minutes spent here and there on little things can really add up, so you can’t ignore those little chunks of time.
Once I see where I’m spending my time, I ask myself a list of questions about activities in my business to help me determine whether or not I can delegate them:
1. Do I enjoy doing this?
2. Is this an income-generating activity?
3. Could someone else do this better or faster than I do?
4. Is it necessary that I do this myself?
5. Can I afford to outsource this?
6. Is this a task that can be outsourced?
Let’s talk about a few examples so you can see how this works. I enjoy working on my own web site and I have the experience and skills to handle it. And because of that, I can often make changes quickly and easily when it’s just a few lines of text. In those case, I know it’s faster and easier to do it myself. But sometimes, more in-depth changes to the design or the programming are needed, and that’s when it makes sense to have someone on my team handle it. If it takes me less time to dash off an e-mail to my assistant than it does to make the change, then my assistant can handle the change for me.
Another example is articles marketing. I love writing, but I hate articles marketing with a passion. That said, it’s an important part of my business model and marketing plan. So I have someone else handle writing abstracts, extracting keywords, and uploading my articles to the sites they need to be on, and I get to do the stuff I love and none of the stuff I hate. And for every job like this that I can outsource, that’s more time for me to spend serving my clients, developing new products, and frankly, spending quality time with my family.
The point here is that you need to ask yourself what tasks do you dislike, what things are you doing that aren’t actually generating income for you, what things are you doing that someone else could do faster and/or better than you, and what things are you holding onto that just aren’t necessary? Ultimately, there are things you’ll want to hold onto for good reason, but take some time to do a little soul-searching, too, so you can see if, like me, you’re occasionally holding onto a few tasks because you feel a need to be in control of them.
You can outsource almost anything these days. You can delegate so much more than you ever imagined, and it doesn’t always have to be a full project- sometimes it can be part of a project. So, start with Step #1: asking yourself the five questions and figuring out what you can delegate. In Part II, I’ll cover how to find solid professionals to help you manage your projects and get more in-depth about what to do once you find them.