When you started your business, chances are you didn’t do it with the intention of working with high-stress levels and long hours the rest of the life. In an ideal world, many business owners have the idea to create a business and then let it run in the background without a whole lot of their own involvement.
The thing is, scaling your business in itself can be stressful and is often where many businesses fail, but it doesn’t have to be that hard. You just need to learn to let go a little bit.
I know, your business is your baby, but you must understand that there are very few things in your business that it makes sense for you to actually to do.
After owning a business for almost thirty years now, here’s something I firmly believe to be true: Your business is worthless until it can operate without you, and the only way it can operate without you is through delegation and outsourcing.
To begin your scaling process list all of the tasks you currently do in your business, which, if you’re just getting started, could be very long.
While this process could take a bit of time, the point of it is to understand what you can and should delegate. In the past, I’ve thought about this in two ways, so feel free to approach it in whatever way makes the most sense to you. The first approach is to categorize tasks into the following categories: work you hate, work you must do, and work you can’t do.
For each task, ask yourself if you could get somebody else to do it less expensively or with greater output than if you did it on your own. If the answer is yes, then you need to pass that work off to somebody else.
Another approach is to add values to the work you need to do, such as $5, $50, $500, $5,000. The idea here is that some work you do has greater value and is the work you should focus on and some work has little value and is the work you should delegate.
Don’t underestimate the value of outsourcing to somebody who could do the work far better than you. My bookkeeping virtual assistant charges $65/hr, and while that may seem high to some, it would take make so much longer than it takes her and wastes valuable time that I could focus on high-profit tasks related to my business. Plus, I hate doing this kind of work, so overcoming the mental block to actually get the work done takes a significant amount of time on its own.
Develop systems and processes
Let’s be real, much of the success of your business resides in the heads of your staff. So, what happens when they leave? Do they take your processes with them? Ideally, no, because you should have these processes documented.
Now, just to warn you, this part takes a lot of time up front but can save you incredible amounts of time in the long run. In order to delegate and outsource effectively, you must document your systems and processes for others to refer to. Why waste time on training numerous VAs and employees when you can have everything laid out for them to review for themselves?
You’ll need to adjust these documents occasionally, but aside from the initial development, this should really work behind the scenes for you.
Using a project management tool, such as Asana, is a great way to manage your delegated tasks and house your processes.
Focus on what matters
Small business owners often get bogged down with day-to-day tasks (I’m talking tasks as meaningless to your business as taking out the garbage) and easily get distracted with these smaller tasks.
After you come up with your inventory, start creating priorities and managing your days, weeks, months and even quarters based on doing more high payoff activities that you identified in the exercise mentioned above.
It was a great day when I was able to lock myself away and come up with a new product or service innovation, or simply get priority to-dos done without interruption. In fact, even today, I have “John Focus Days” blocked off on my calendar so that my team is aware those are the days where I’m in the zone and would ideally not be disturbed.
This is how scaling a business happens: when daily tasks are outsourced and you can focus on next steps to grow.
What you shouldn’t delegate
Now that you’ve made your list and a commitment to delegate, you also must figure out what you can’t delegate because there are definitely some tasks that should fall within your to-dos.
Even if you put together an awesome internal and outsourced team, there are a few things that small business owners shouldn’t delegate, including:
- Culture – The core beliefs, operations, and core story are areas you must continue to nurture and teach no matter how large your staff grows.
- Processes, overall strategy, and company vision – You must own the idea of where you are going and why you are going there, as well as how you plan to get your business there.
- Client relationships – Sure you can have your staff run day-to-day interactions, but make sure you still show your face and keep open communication with your clients. How your clients feel about your business and how they understand the results they gain by working with you are items of great value to your business and must be guarded and practiced by you.
- Hiring – As a small business owner, make sure you know who you have working for you. When it comes to outsourcing and delegation, this component is key.
- Finances – You at least need to track financials and make the ultimate decisions on large expenses or investments. While I have that VA who handles bookkeeping, I insist on staying on top of key performance indicators and managing the money inside the business.
At the end of the day, in order to truly scale your business, you must work to replace yourself in two key areas – the doing of the actual work that makes money and the selling of the work that makes money. Do that, and you’ll be on your way to setting your business up for success.