by Jessica Thiefels | Featured Contributor
Delegating work to other people sounds great in theory. You spend less time doing the nitty gritty and get more time to focus on the big picture details you actually care about.
Despite the obvious benefits, when it comes to giving work to other people, we business owners struggle to hire help. Not only do you have to trust someone else to do the work as well as you, but it takes time to send out assignments and onboard someone. Plus, paying a contractor or virtual assistant means less money in your pocket.
I get it—I struggled at first too. Both onboarding and paying people to work for me was a hurdle I didn’t want to deal with. I’m particular about my writers because they ghostwrite for me. What’s more, as a writer and editor myself, I know that you get what you pay for and letting go of a couple thousand dollars each month seemed absurd.
Despite my resistance, it came to a head. I’d reached a point where I could no longer do the work myself, and still make time for rest and growing my business. My business was running me, and I had to ask for help if I still wanted to maintain my client load and enjoy my life. I branched out to my network to bring on writing and marketing support and haven’t looked back since. My best months, financially and mentally, are when I delegate more work to my writers and marketing coordinator.
Having help not only allows me to get more done every month, but it gives me greater freedom in my day. With less work on my plate, I can take an afternoon off if I’m exhausted or take a full day to work on my book instead of being stressed about client work. I now rely on my writers and marketing coordinator and am grateful to have them on board.
If I can do it, you can do it too. So, if you’re ready to build your business and take some of your time back too, use the following tips to delegate your tedious tasks.
You don’t need to delegate $5,000 dollars in work right now. Start small to ensure that you find the right people or person. I always start new writers with a test assignment. If it’s something I can work with, I pay them and use it. If not, I’m upfront that they won’t get paid for the work.
This allows me to get a feel for their writing as well as their work style. Do they communicate well via email? Do they submit the piece on time? Do they need a lot of handholding?
You can do the same, no matter what line of work you’re in. For example, if you want to hire a virtual assistant, start with a simple project. See how they do on that one project and assess their work style based on your own criteria, like I do with writers. From there, you can add more work to their plate or try someone new. You can also look for someone more specialized via sites like UpWork. I have five writers that I pay because I do a lot of content work. To me, that’s a lot more valuable to me than a VA.
Make a list of where someone could feasibly provide support and then consider the best way to accomplish those tasks. Once you find someone, document the onboarding process so you have a record for the next person you bring on.
Follow the 70 Percent Rule
One of the greatest challenges with delegating is knowing that someone else won’t do it as well as you. That’s where the 70 percent rule comes into play, which says: if the person in question can do the job 70 percent as well as you can, you should delegate it. While this may still be a challenging concept to accept, Jim Schleckser, CEO of Inc. CEO Project makes a great point:
“To let go of perfection, you need to decide what’s more important to you: having the work completed to ‘perfection’ (the way you would do it), or having it completed successfully in a different way. You may even be surprised to find that when you give your team members [contractors] a little leeway, they discover new—and better—ways to do things.”
My writers are always coming up with angles I wouldn’t have thought of and digging up research I wouldn’t have looked for. I’ve come to prefer delegating as much as possible to them because my definition of perfect has evolved. My way isn’t always the best way and letting go of the need to have something a certain way has made my life much less stressful.
If you don’t want to get subpar work, give feedback. I’ve been working with some of my writers for a few years now and they know what I like. They’ve turned my feedback into even better writing, which makes my job easier. Plus, feedback makes their lives easier because they spend less time guessing and more time producing great work.
Make this part of the process. Give feedback in real-time or do it in chunks, like one feedback email at the end of each month. If I need to do heavy edits on an article, I’ll simply send the final article to the writer and ask them to compare their version to mine to see where they can do better next time.
Delegate What Someone Can Do Better
This is so important as a business owner with a growing business. There’s a lot that you do better than the people you delegate to. There’s also a lot that you don’t do better, and that work should also be delegated. For me, that’s accounting and bookkeeping. Hiring a CPA and bookkeeper is the best money I’ve spent in my business because financials are not my forte.
Looking at Profit and Loss statements and dealing with invoices is just not something I want to deal with. Plus, experts are experts for a reason. If I do it, I’m more likely to make a mistake. When they do it, I have the added peace of mind that everything is taken care of. This allows me to focus on what I do well, which is growing my business.
Start Delegating Now
It may be hard to spend the money or release control, but you’ll quickly find it’s worth it. Not only can you focus on bigger picture work by delegating small, tedious tasks, but you can also find more time to rest, which is crucial if you want to run a business long-term.
Jessica Thiefels is founder and CEO of Jessica Thiefels Consulting, an organic content marketing agency for mid-size B2B businesses outsourcing content marketing. She’s been writing for more than 10 years and has been featured in top publications like Forbes, Entrepreneur and Fast Company. She also regularly contributes to Virgin, Business Insider, Glassdoor, Score.org and more. Follow her on Twitter, @JThiefels and Instagram, @HowtoMastertheArt, and connect on LinkedIn.