The comments to my last article about delegation hit the nail very firmly on the head.
One reader said: 'The biggest problem with this scenario is that before you can delegate you need to have someone to delegate to.'
And this was answered very well by: 'The step to employing someone is the hardest step for a self-employed person to first take. Once made, you will wonder why it took you so long.
'If you are working, say, 60 hours a week in your business, and you employ a part time person to work 20 of those hours, you can re-allocate those hours of your time to growing your business, increasing profitability and free you up to do the work in your business which you love the most.'
I very strongly identify with both writers. I've been in both places and gradually hiring part-time workers has been the single biggest factor in my business growth over the last 20 years.
And my business has grown organically. There's never been a big cash injection that enabled me to hire staff.
'So how?' you might still be asking.
Let me answer with some examples.
A few years ago I fielded a question from one of my providers. (In this case it was a web-based service). He asked: 'What's the main thing that prevents you achieving your internet business goals?' I was about to reply 'Lack of time to work on the projects' when I realised that I of all people (being a time management specialist), couldn't use that excuse. So I dug a bit deeper. And then I realised it wasn't a lack of time so much as a lack of resources.
That answer brought another question: 'What parts of the work can someone else do, and where can I find such a person?'
I made a list of what I could outsource from the large array of web-related tasks. To my surprise, the list was long!
Have you ever noticed that once you're clear about what you want, the answer shows up remarkably fast?
The solution to the problem, once I was very clear about what I needed, only took six weeks and showed up in the form of a brilliant senior uni student. By the time Jason left us nearly three years later he'd not only made a very solid contribution to the company but also gained valuable experience. And not only was he far better and faster at his work than me, but his pay scale was a lot lower than what I could bill myself out at.
So, next time you can't find time to think or you feel overwhelmed, look for pieces of your work to outsource.
The first step is to write down the specific tasks. Then get creative about who can do it.
To tickle your thinking, here's a partial list of our suppliers over the years:
My first assistant was a young lass off a job scheme. A friend and I shared her hours and her wages and the pay was subsidised by the government. Six months later my friend could afford to hire Lillian full-time and I could afford to hire an experienced part-timer of my own.
School mothers are a brilliant employment pool. Give them the chance to do flexible work hours or even work from home and you'll have wonderful loyal team members.
Student Job Search is a fantastic source of short-term contractors.
Many other tertiary or vocational colleges also have work schemes and/or offer graduate or senior students as interns.
Are there teenagers in your extended family or neighbourhood keen to earn money on casual work? (It might be non-business things so your personal time is also freed up). Get creative and you'll be surprised at how much you can outsource to others.
Here's the thing. While you're doing work that someone else could do at a far lower pay rate than yourself, effectively you're paying yourself that low rate.
If you want to move ahead in your business, the need to delegate ALWAYS comes before you can quite afford the extra staff. But, if you don't let something go you'll continue to pay yourself that lower rate and your life will be so full of minutiae that you'll have no energy left to work on the long-term activities with potentially far higher returns.
Help (and the opportunity to make more money) is everywhere. Just get clear about what you need.
Reader giveaway: We have 2 double passes (worth $190.00 each) to give away to Robyn's next 2 hour Breakfast Club event - in Auckland May 3rd. To be in to win, email your entry now to firstname.lastname@example.org with Breakfast (NZ Herald Online) in the subject line. Entries close by 5pm Friday 26th April for Auckland. For those who miss out, tickets and more details see here.