Many entrepreneurs (myself included), start their companies by handling everything themselves; if something needs to be done, we’ll learn how to make it happen.
There are many reasons we come up with to DIY most if not all tasks inside and out of your business. It’s hard to find reliable people that have the required skills and interest in the project. We fear delegating crucial tasks to others for fear they will do a worse job. While do-it-yourself is a great strategy to get projects off the ground, scalability is only possible with delegation.
When should you start delegating? Odds are, the answer is yesterday.
The concepts of delegation, scalability, and accountability impact entrepreneurs of all kinds. Lack of delegation hinders scalability and is often so pervasive that it is a bigger barrier for tech founders than other obstacles like software design and building community. When should you start delegating? I like to use the following question to help me. What am I doing that… 1. Someone else can do well, only cheaper 2. I don’t enjoy doing Criteria 1 Explained: “Well” means: Someone can do the thing as well as you or better than you (not sacrificing quality). Another way to word this is “What tasks are you NOT uniquely needed for”. “Cheaper” means: If you charge your clients $100 per hour and you are doing accounting yourself that could be outsourced for $20 per hour, even if the outsourced accountant takes 3 hours to do the work you could do yourself in 1 hour, hiring the outsourced accountant would still be cheaper. Criteria 2 Explained: If you really LOVE doing the accounting for your business yourself, hey, I’m not here to stop you. If you don’t love it, it’s a good candidate for outsourcing. You might be thinking, “This is so broad. There are so many things that fit these criteria, from posting on social media to restructuring the database for the contract I’m working on right now.” — You’d be right! There are so many opportunities to delegate things big and small. Getting comfortable with delegation early is doing a great favor for your future self: start small, get comfortable with delegating, and “scale up” what you give to others as your company scales. The first thing I ever delegated (in the context of my businesses, not nonprofit or volunteer activities) was lead generation. I had been putting together lists of companies that were building tools for enterprises; it was taking a ton of time, and I decided to hire a virtual assistant to help do the most labor-intensive and least-technical aspect of the work: researching online and placing the names and websites of each company that met my criteria in the spreadsheet. I still did the analysis of good fit as a prospect myself (as this would have taken time to train the VA on). Nowadays, that same VA I worked with back then has gotten very familiar with my work and can handle analysis tasks for me. This frees up time for me to work on more client projects. With delegation, start small, then scale up.
Keeping those you delegate to accountable can be a roller coaster at first. The Accountability Loop can help.
Having a system in place to keep everyone on the same page and ensure accountability is a great way to make delegating more efficient and equitable. To avoid getting caught in cycles of unaccountability, find a method to ensure proper communication and expected outcomes. One great tool that can help you achieve this the Accountability Loop — A framework for agreeing on clear deliverables, negotiating details on delivery, clarifying requirements when needed, and receiving delivery of work. This small tool has made a big difference for me; especially when engaging with Virtual Assistants. Accountability loops clearly convey the responsibilities of all parties and ensure the person delegating has expectations and that the person doing the task commits to their part. Along with expectations and requirements, accountability loops include assessment, and follow-up to determine the outcomes were met. The success in the accountability loop is in its simplicity. The asker and the doer are on the same page and have clearly articulated what they have committed to and when it will be accomplished. With this process in place blockchain entrepreneurs can delegate anything that is not absolutely necessary for you, the founder, to do; opening up the time and headspace you need to grow your company.
It can be scary to delegate important tasks when you don’t have a prior working relationship with someone. When bringing on contractors you have to pay attention to who you’re hiring and make sure that they’re not only well-qualified but reliable. There are many good ways to do that. Starting off with temporary contracts as opposed to making long-term investments in an employee or long-term contractor relationship is a fairly low-risk option.
With delegation, start small, then scale up.
It’s easier to “just do it myself” is a phrase that traps so many in cycles of being overworked, stressed, and limiting their company’s growth. To get started with delegation, start small, then scale up. How do you get your most important stakeholders engaged with your project?