As an entrepreneur or startup owner, how often have you thought to yourself, “In the time it took to explain it to someone else, I could have done it already”. Entrepreneurs are known for wearing multiple hats, and trying to live up to an impossible ideal where they feel like they have to do everything themselves, and do it perfectly. While it’s certainly true that the founder of a small business needs to be fluent with all aspects of their business, it is actually detrimental to the business for them to be doing too many tasks. The fact is that you can run yourself ragged, and still not accomplish everything you set out to do. As a business owner, you have to learn to delegate to be truly productive.
How do you identify which tasks to keep and which ones to shed? For an approach that will help you find clarity in your work start by taking a daily inventory of all the tasks you perform over a typical week. If a week seems too long, try at least three days. After which, reflect on your list of tasks and classify the things you do into three categories:
- Things you do because you’re most productive doing them
- Things you do because they require all of your attention
- Mundane tasks that take up a lot of your time
Each task is probably important to your business in different ways. Some will be more critical than others. So, if you want to make the most of your time, and that of your team’s, you have to know which tasks you can afford to hand over to a third party. This way, you will be able to redirect your efforts to the critical tasks, which cannot be done by anyone but you. When you outsource some of your work to a good external partner, you free up your time for the things that actually deserve your attention, as well as improve your business’s efficiency.
What tasks can you shed? Keep in mind, that just because you find a task interesting, doesn’t make it urgent, important or worth your while. The concept of doing the very most important things and not wasting any time on anything that’s even marginally important, is the art of shedding, and will help you do more by doing less. Some tasks that are commonly outsourced are accounting needs, human resources, data entry, and other tasks that are lower in value and not so time sensitive. Outsourcing specialized tasks like graphic design, website development, SEO, social media marketing etc, is quite common, and usually better done by experts in that particular field.
In the book The One Thing, by Gary Keller, we learn that there is one thing that will do the most for your company at any given moment. That one activity will have more impact on your business than anything else you do. By focusing on that one thing you will be move your business along faster and more profitably. But to be able to focus on that one thing, you need to shed the other tasks you’ve taken over that can be delegated.
It can be difficult to learn to let go of the tasks you’re used to doing. It can feel like you’re abandoning your business. However, letting third parties carry out these activities doesn’t mean that you’re abandoning them. You still have to set goals for your outsourcing partners, check up on them periodically and make sure that they are delivering what was promised, to get you closer to the results you want.
There are risks in every business, and in most business decisions. Outsourcing is no different. But when outsourcing is done right, you will reap benefits far greater than you could have on your own. Your overall internal process will be smoother and more efficient, and you’ll be able to focus on the tasks that are top priority. In short, you will be doing less, but accomplishing much more.