Business Owners Toolbox Blog Discussions and articles to help the small business owner solve the challenges they face as they grow their business.

November 6, 2009

Delegate till it hurts!

When it comes to delegating, business owners can be their own worst enemies. (from my post to the Bay Area Consultants Network LinkedIn group)

“Delegate till it hurts!” is the advice I give my small business owner clients, who are overworked yet reluctant to hand off tasks to employees they’re paying good money to.

Yesterday I met with a client who owns a 10-person company. She hired a numbers person to free her up to do the creative stuff that brings in the money. Yet she still holds on to estimating “because it’s complicated and it has to get done right.” This takes so much of her time that she neglects business development. So we discussed how to hand off estimating to her numbers person.

Of course she neglects business development because marketing calls scare the bejeebers out of her. She holds onto estimating–call it “comfortable drudgery”–so she won’t have time to do the marketing.

What is it about marketing that scares her? She says every call seems like a cold call. Her unspoken attitude is, “You wouldn’t want to buy anything from me, would you?” So then how has her business been so successful? “I’m good at building relationships,” she says.

So I tell her, “Stop marketing. Instead, go build relationships–with allies and people who respect you. Tell them how much you admire their work, and that they are the kind of person you’d like to work with.”

This suggestion seems to take a load off her shoulders. Then she says, “I dislike making the calls to set up these visits. Hmmm, maybe I could hand this off to ‘numbers lady’ also.”

So. Two major delegations to free her up to focus on the two things she loves about her business (and that make the cash roll in) — creative stuff and building relationships. And delegating to a person who’s already on payroll. Note that we got there by addressing her fears and resistance and old habits. Otherwise she would remain the bottleneck to effective delegating.

She left with a new spring in her step.

This is why I love my work!


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