There are some tasks that just seem to suck up time. Some of them may be deceptively interesting – or even addictive. Keeping a weather eye on your social media platforms can quickly turn into hours of browsing where you’d meant to only spend minutes. Other tasks, like graphic design require specific skills and knowledge. It can be an uphill struggle to master these yourself while trying to focus on growing your business at the same time. Finally, there are tasks that can be made so much easier by selecting the right tool for the job, rather than devoting hours of manual labour to complete.
In each of these cases, delegation should be your watchword. Whether you delegate to another member of staff, a contractor, or even a piece of software, the time you free up to focus on your business is often well worth it.
Today, we have a guest article from Kayleigh Alexandra at Micro Startups, here to highlight 7 tasks to delegate early on!
It’s remarkably difficult to move seamlessly from running a promising solo operation to helming a fast-growing team with lofty ambitions. This is largely because scaling a growing business adds more complexity than people tend to expect, and it piles on quickly — if you don’t get ahead of it, you can find yourself overwhelmed by your workload and unable to cope.
This is why delegation isn’t merely a recommendation: it’s a practical requirement. The earlier you can start lightening your everyday burden, the better equipped you’ll be to fulfil your primary duties as the business owner, and the less likely you’ll be to suffer burnout.
Here are 7 tasks that every small business owner should seek to offload as early as possible:
Human resources is a key part of business growth, because a lot of time will need to go towards finding new talent, getting through the hiring process, onboarding new employees, and handling all the minor disputes and requests that inevitably accrue when you have a growing team. You can — and should — be involved to some extent (particularly when scouting new talent), but it’s far better handled by someone else.
When you have a dedicated HR head (backed by a suitable HR portal), you don’t need to field numerous basic requests every day. It’s also great for conflict resolution: if an employee has an issue with your leadership, they can discuss it with the HR head instead of needing to approach you directly, and a solution can be found without any uncomfortable conflicts.
Every growing business benefits from a clear business plan, but past a certain point it should fall upon someone else to get involved with the specifics. Financial planning tools like Brixx allow several members of a team to contribute to the planning process, and unlike spreadsheets are easy to understand at a glance.
An easy to use tool like this ensures that you can stay updated on the varied business goals and track your progress (monthly, quarterly and yearly, for example) without taking up too much of your time. What’s more, in Brixx everything is modular and requires no financial knowledge, and so experimentation is easy to either dabble with, or put more focus on when the business faces big decisions or needs to seek investment.
3. Social media
Any business that wants to start building a valuable brand needs to be making long-term commitments to social media activity. It’s such a rich avenue — allowing you to reach new audiences and showcase creativity in various forms — that going without it (or even just neglecting it somewhat) is an ill-advised move.
Social media is taxing, of course. Feeds move quickly, as do trends, and there are numerous platforms to consider: at a minimum, there’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and of course, LinkedIn but you shouldn’t overlook channels like Pinterest or Snapchat depending on your business. So much goes into social media promo that you need an in-house social media manager, or even a team, using tools like SocialOomph or Viralpep to work with optimal efficiency.
Cash flow is core to all business operations, but it’s particularly significant when you’re running a small business because you’re relatively vulnerable: both when it comes to keeping your operation going and regarding your industry image (you don’t want to be seen as struggling). You can be profitable but still reach a point of failure due to poor timing with payments.
Using a cloud-based accounting tool with banking, analysis and payroll will help massively, allowing you to keep everything in one place and keep the books balanced without too much hassle. For its low cost and compatibility, Wave accounting is definitely worth a try, while Xero and QuickBooks are some of the biggest names out there (though there’s no shortage of alternatives if you prefer).
This is a really broad category, but it’s one of the most important things you can delegate because admin soaks up so much time. Think about your average workday, and make a list of everything you do on that day that counts as the connective tissue between your important tasks: things like entering data, updating your schedule, fielding calls, arranging travel, etc.
Ideally, your role as the figurehead of the company should be to manage the team beneath you and race around locking down fresh clients. That’s a heavy workload, and you can’t afford the distraction of (for instance) needing to type up several pages of notes 30 minutes before a huge client pitch. Whether you hire a dedicated secretary, use a freelancer, or spread the tasks throughout your team, get admin off your plate as soon as possible.
6. Graphic design
Whether you’re rolling out some posts for social media or overhauling the design of your business website, you’re going to need quite a bit of graphic design done. Even if you do happen to have some skills in that area, they may not be at a professional standard and you have more important things to do with your time.
You can hire a dedicated graphic designer to your team, or you can work with a freelancer (or set of freelancers) as required (you can use sites like Fiverr for this, but be discerning — quality is essential). Which approach you should take depends on how frequently you need graphic design work done, and what standard you need it to reach.
7. Customer support
Early on, it’s a good thing for a small business owner to be personally involved in dealing with customers, because it makes the company feel more personable. Additionally, you’re more likely to secure someone’s support if you handle their issue yourself, because it shows how seriously you take their business (and contentment). But you can’t keep handling customer support on your own, and eventually it will start to make you look unprofessional.
I don’t recommend using a fully-virtual support team to handle everything, but remote support assistants can be pretty good if used smartly and backed by some type of in-house customer success advocate. Step in when absolutely needed (if a client threatens to walk away, for instance), but otherwise leave your employees to handle relationships.
If you want to achieve your business ambitions, you can’t allow your workload to unnecessarily sap your time and energy. Delegate every one of these tasks as quickly as possible, and focus completely on the things that only you can handle.
Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for Micro Startups — a site dedicated to giving through growth hacking. Visit their blog for your latest dose of startup, entrepreneur, and charity insights from top experts around the globe, or follow Mirco Startups on Twitter @getmicrostarted.