Building Your Flight Crew: 10 Things Successful Biz Women Delegate
As an entrepreneur, you’re probably used to going it alone. When most women start their own businesses, they usually do all the work themselves. I know this is true – I not only did it myself, I’ve talked to a bazillion women who do the same thing. Ok…maybe not a bazillion but A LOT!
There’s just one problem with this strategy – it takes up too much of your precious time to be building your business all by yourself. If you are like most of us that have purposeful businesses, you have big ideas, big plans and not enough time to get it all done.
When you’re busy building a business, think of your company as a multi-million dollar enterprise. It doesn’t matter how much you want to make, because this outlook puts things in the right perspective. The bigger the company is, and the more money it makes, the more people it takes to get it off the ground.
Let’s think of your business as an airline. For your “flight” – in this case, your business – to take off, you have a bunch of different jobs that need to be done. If you do them all yourself, it takes up a lot of your time. Most of this time could be better spent on growing your company, rather than taking care of the everyday tasks that need to be done to keep your business moving.
Call yourself the pilot. Your main goal is directing the flight plan, flying the plane, and making sure everyone gets from Point A to Point B in the most efficient way. Would you also spend your time refilling the fuel tanks, loading baggage, taking reservations, preparing the in-flight snacks and cleaning up after the passengers? Most likely not. Your talents are best used in masterminding the whole operation. Your job is to lead others to do what they do best. Just because you are capable of preparing the in-flight snacks…doesn’t mean you have to be the person doing it. (I’d betcha that someone else can do it better and faster than you, too)
The same is true of your business. You won’t have time to do everything and do it well. And you won’t WANT to do everything. You need to build a “flight crew” that can handle the other things so that you can focus on the journey you want to take.
So, since we know it’s best to split up the workload, let’s look at some of the typical tasks that take up an entrepreneur’s time.
Ask yourself, which ones are in your zone, that you’ll want to take ownership of?
Ask yourself, which ones appeal to you, but someone else can do them better and faster?
And let’s be honest here…you’ll be doing a happy dance when you unload some of these jobs onto a highly qualified person that LIVES to do some of this stuff. Have a celebratory glass of wine when you find the perfect crew member to handle those tasks!
Unless you’re a genius with numbers and get a thrill out of a perfect balance sheet, this is a task that benefits from a professional’s touch. It’s a specialized skill that is easy to outsource, and it’s great to have someone giving you advice and providing checks and balances for your finances. If you’ve never shared this information before and it makes you nervous, ask for referrals from people you trust.
But once you’ve brought this co-pilot on board, don’t use her presence as an excuse to bury your head in the sand when it comes to your bottom line. Make sure you know what’s going on in your bank book at all times.
If your company is large enough to have employees, this task could be done by your financial person or by a payroll company. You can even use some great apps that are designed just for this purpose. It doesn’t cost much to outsource payroll, and it’s a huge time saver. It’s a highly repetitive activity, and we all know that these are the easiest types of tasks to delegate.
And if it’s possible, consider hiring independent contractors instead of employees when you’re just starting out. While you may pay a higher hourly rate, they often take care of their own taxes, health insurance and retirement savings plans. Do what works best for you and your long term goals for your company.
For most people I advise, I always recommend having a lawyer on their dream team. It doesn’t take much convincing to encourage entrepreneurs to surrender this task. It’s so highly specialized that even lawyers have their own lawyers. It never hurts to have an attorney lined up before you actually need one. You may even want more than one, to cover different aspects of your business. A good lawyer can help you assess your legal liability and steer you toward good business decisions. Make sure you get good recommendations when you’re hiring an attorney.
For your business to grow, you need to focus on activities that bring in revenue. It’s rare that data entry, answering routine telephone calls, making travel arrangements and filing bring in the dough. Instead you are focusing on saving you time! Admins and Virtual Assistants (VAs) are great for repetitive tasks that need to be done, but not necessarily by you. Bring someone on board who is organized, a problem-solver and a great gatekeeper who can protect your time. Excellent training is the key here. Document the steps you take when you train them and you’ll have a fantastic manual you can use next time or publish as an e-book to help others.
- Technology & Computer Stuff
Because you don’t need their help every day, this is an ideal role to outsource. It takes time and money to figure out tricky technology things on your own, so it’s best to call in a professional when serious problems arise. They might not even need to come to you, since so much of this work is done remotely via the web. Like accountants and lawyers, computer folks are easy to find. And like a lawyer, it’s best to have someone lined up before you need her services.
- Website Development and On-Going Maintenance
Unlike a troubleshooter, this tech guru has a regular, recurring role in your business. You might love setting up and running your website, but it can be time-consuming. Trust me on this one…I’ve fallen and still fall victim to this one from time to time. I can’t help it…I’m a web geek at heart.
If you have a blog, add more hours you spend to your total. Then add in your SEO activities, monitoring traffic and doing frequent updates, and you’re spending more time on your website than you are on your business.
This is where students and interns can be great asset to your business. A lot of them are eager for experience and will agree to work as interns or at a very reasonable rate. Always check their online portfolio first. Also, make sure you review your site carefully for typos, mistakes and the way your business is presented to the public. Your website is a cornerstone of your brand. As the pilot, you control your brand (good) or others control it for you (not good).
- Sales/Lead Generation
Because you’re so busy wearing a full wardrobe of hats, you can only focus effectively on a limited number of things at one time. If you spend all of your time on sales activities such as generating proposals, calling on prospects and chasing down leads, the other high-level tasks required to run your business can suffer.
If you aren’t comfortable with sales, this is the ideal task to turn over is a no-brainer. You’ll just need to decide if you want to pay a one-time commission with each sale, residuals on all sales over a certain time period, or a cut of each sale made to a client for the life of the relationship.
Commission is often the best way to pay salespeople, especially in the early days when you are just starting to delegate. There is less risk and less overhead. Remember, that the more money a salesperson makes when they close the deal, the harder they’ll work for you. This is truly a win-win situation!
- Social Media Marketing
Of all the tasks we’ve discussed so far, this one has the highest probability of becoming the ultimate time suck. Many business owners feel that to truly keep up with their social media, they have to be online all the time. This can be tremendously distracting.
However, once you’ve outlined what you want your social media to accomplish and have put it in the hands of a talented manager, this is another task that can be easily delegated. Make sure to approve all content released to your social media first. A lot of this material can be created in advance and stockpiled.
Stop in on your social media sites every now and then to make sure everything is going according to plan. Ask your social media person for regular updates and analytics, and make sure you know how to read them.
Look for someone who is familiar with multiple platforms and has a deep knowledge of how they work. Students and interns are a great way to start here as well…they typically require training and your time. If social media is a big part of your overall marketing strategy, I recommend going to a trusted professional.
- Personal Assistants
This usually isn’t the first thing an entrepreneur thinks about when they’re looking for ways to free up their time, but it’s one of the best ways to make serious headway – fast.
Running errands, deliveries, party planning and shopping are time-eaters that can be delegated to a willing student. Wow…there’s a theme here….Random fact, I do teach a college technology course so my heart goes out to students who want real world working experience. Students want to make extra money and build out their resumes. Just don’t ask a personal assistant to do anything you wouldn’t be comfortable doing yourself. And always keep it professional and don’t create or participate in unnecessary drama…we are running a business not starring in the latest Hollywood reality TV show.
- Household Help
Like a personal assistant, a busy entrepreneur can free up hours of time every week that can be devoted to improving the bottom line of her business. Consider hiring someone to help keep an eye on the kids, clean your house, mow your lawn, cook meals and do your laundry. While we are at it, we might as well through in a butler, too. Only kidding…but you can pick one or two things to get help with around the house. Women are always seeking balance – so spend your time wisely so you can do what you enjoy doing.
Here’s Your Homework Assignment…
Now that you have some idea of the tasks you can shift to members of your flight crew, pull out pencil and paper and keep track of your life for a few days. Write down what you do and how long it takes to do it. Put a star next to the tasks that you love and a check mark next to the ones you don’t. You’ll know at a glance which tasks should go when it’s time to delegate.
Then assign a dollar amount to an hour of your time. How much is an hour worth? $25? $40? $100? $250? Multiply this amount by the amount of time it takes to complete a task.
If you aren’t making that much – or more – with these activities, it’s time to delegate them. The most important part of being the pilot is knowing where you want to land.
If you need some guidance, or need to talk this strategy through, don’t hesitate to flag me down. I’m always looking for ways to save you time so you can make more money. After all, the more money you have, the more you can share with the people and causes that are important to you. This always makes my day, because the best part of what I do is helping you live your dreams.
Until next time…