This guest post by Yvonne Root.
You’ve heard it before. You can’t do it all alone. You must be able to delegate if you want to make it in business.
That’s all fine and good if you have an office filled with co-workers or assistants. But what if you’re truly a one-man-show? Or how do you do it when you have a small team and everyone is stretched to the limit? How do you delegate when there is no one to delegate to?
Ah, but there are many means for delegating and more people than you may have at first thought when it comes time to hand off a part of your busy schedule. Consider:
Spouse, Roommate or Partner
Unless you not only work alone but also live alone you may consider the person you live with as a possibility for delegating. Even if you think the person with whom you live has no interest or abilities concerning your business there are some things which you may still wish to delegate to him or her.
As an example, if you’re in the middle of an important project, need quiet time, but are hoping for an important phone call your housemate can be called upon to screen your calls. Even your private cell phone can be answered by this other person. The script we use goes something like this. When I’m answering my husband’s phone I say, “Hi, this is Yvonne answering Jack’s phone.” That way the person calling isn’t thrown off balance by a female voice answering a “guy phone.”
There are other ways you can ask for assistance from your housemate. Think in terms of what you need as well as what talents and abilities your housemate possesses. Need an editor, a sounding board, a neck rub, a point of accountability? Could you use someone to do a bit of research, make appointments, fill out forms or run some errands?
Also, there may be times when the household jobs which are normally assigned to you can be taken over once or for a short period of time by your housemate. Washing dishes, carrying out the trash, taking the car for repairs, buying groceries are a few things which come to mind.
You will, of course, be willing to help out your housemate at another time in exchange for what you delegate today. Right?
Allowing your children to be a part of your business is good for you and very good for them. You need not worry about teaching them self-esteem when they can see the value they add by being part of the household as well as the business picture.
Even very young children can be and most often want to be involved in what you are doing. I can’t think of a better document shredder than a 2 year old.
And that brings us to assigning tasks which are age appropriate.
Sheila Seifert, writing at Focus on the Family has provided an excellent chart of Age Appropriate Chores which gives you a starting point for figuring out what types of things your own youngsters can be expected to undertake to help you.
Her chart is for family chores and tasks but is easily transferred to business tasks. For example, Seifert suggests 4 and 5 year olds can be involved in household tasks with minimal supervision. She says they can begin feeding pets, making beds, matching socks in the laundry, putting away toys, and placing silverware settings. From that it is easy to see they can also help in your office by removing waste basket contents, dusting, watering plants, stapling, and sorting.
One of my friends allows her 12 year old daughter to take care of many of the office tasks with little to no supervision. Our own daughter knew how to run the cash register, make change and package purchases for our customers at the retail store we owned when she was only 7.
Teaching, training and supervising your children to aid in your business gives you the time you need to take care of other tasks. Depending on the maturity of the child as well as the given task you may choose to pay for the service provided.
Neighbors and Friends
From accepting important packages to giving important feedback, neighbors can be excellent delegates. If a friend has a particular talent or skill you need there is nothing wrong with asking for help. In this instance you must use your common sense. The things to consider include:
- How close is your friendship?
- Does your friend normally charge for the service you need?
- If so, are you willing to or capable of meeting the fees?
- Is this a one-time need or will it be ongoing?
- What are you willing to do in exchange for what you need?
Often neighbors or friends are called upon to take care of things while you’re traveling or away from home for some time, but they are also good for help in other areas. At first I thought I would write a list of various things I’ve asked of my friends and neighbors over the years. Then I decided I don’t need to do that because we’ve all experienced that sort of help.
What you may not have considered before is calling upon your friends and neighbors for a specific task concerning your business. Some things which friends and neighbors may provide:
- Do you need a travel buddy?
- Would it be helpful to have someone run a few errands for you while they are taking care of their own?
- Is your friend available to give feedback on your products, blog, speech?
- Do you need someone to collate your handouts?
- Would your neighbor be willing to write a blog post for you?
Recently, one of my lovely neighbors graciously shared all her knowledge about a topic I knew little about. Now, that information is being used to develop a new product in our line of guided journals.
Don’t forget your online friends. For instance, I often return to a marketing forum of which I’m a part for information and advice. Think about the different connections you’ve made through social networking, your website, or the websites of others when you need help or assistance.
If one of your most important ideals is getting value for what you pay, then you may very well be interested in hiring a Virtual Assistant. Before I hired my Virtual Assistant my biggest questions were, “What does it cost?” and “What do they do?”
After reading this article, My Experience Using a Virtual Assistant, by Michael Hyatt, I took the plunge.
I’ve never looked back. At very little cost I’ve been able to depend on my Virtual Assistant to do exactly what we agreed for her to do plus a bit more. She always gives more than is expected of her, is always timely and a true asset to me on a personal as well as a professional level. In the case of my VA I wanted a particular specialty and found her using a google search using the criteria I sought.
You may need to interview more than one person to find the VA who is just right for your particular business needs.
Perhaps you have a project which requires a skill you don’t have. It could be you have the skill but not the necessary time. Hiring someone on a short term or one time basis could be the answer. A photographer or artist, a cleaning service or website developer, a babysitter or personal shopper could answer your needs.
We have hired the same artist more than once to provide cover art for the home studies we produce. Our logo, business cards and signage were all designed by a contractor who also developed the cover format for our guided journals. This same contractor worked hand in hand with another of our contractors who designed the boxes used for containing our guided journals.
Once you’ve determined your specific need then it is easier to find the contractor most suited to you and your business.
Ask around, check with friends, neighbors, online, at your local college or even the high school near you. Be sure what your needs are and how your business will be affected by the skill level of the contractor. In other words, keep less skilled labor in-house and use highly skilled contractors for the phases of your work were your customers or clients will be touched by the work.
One of the most vital delegation tools you have is your systems. Put your systems in place and you free yourself from wasted “what’s next” time as well as concerns about what you may be leaving out.
Think in terms of step one, step two, step three and so on. Write down your individual systems. Even if you already know which steps you take within a particular system it is important to write it down. There are two major reasons for writing your systems out:
- You may see system flaws or ways to improve your system once you see it in black and white.
- You can’t delegate well if you can’t explain the system to the person you wish to delegate to.
What steps do you take when you write a blog post? What are the steps involved in creating or purchasing the products you sell? Which steps do you use to provide excellent customer service? What steps are involved in managing your office, paying your taxes, updating your website or marketing your business?
Writing out your systems will take time and probably won’t be accomplished in a single day. Yet, the time you save once your systems are mastered is well worth the effort. And consider, no matter to whom you delegate there will likely be a training or instruction time involved. Think of the time you use writing down your systems as time that would have been spent training a person for delegated work. Also, some of your other delegation training will be shortened if you can hand over written instructions concerning how you want a particular task accomplished.
What about you
Have any of these delegating ideas helped you think of something you can delegate to others? Are there people in your life who will be able to help you accomplish your goals and tasks on an occasional or regular basis? Who can you delegate something to today?
Yvonne Root is a co-owner of Journal in a BoxTM a business dedicated to helping people grow both personally and professionally through the use of the most basic of tools – a handwritten journal. She is an author, a speaker, an instructor and a dedicated front porch sitter. She never delegates porch sitting to anyone else, because she says the task is much too difficult to teach.
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