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It’s Lonely at the Top – Delegation and Why You Need to Start Doing It

Despite what some of you might believe, entrepreneurship isn’t a one-man’s (or woman’s) game. It’s all very well and good to be running such an operation from the start, but if you’re doing a great job of it, it will eventually grow and expand to be something a single person can’t handle. My name is Jeremy Powers and this post is about how you, as an entrepreneur, can work with people and the importance of delegating your tasks to them.

Before we get on, I’d just like to bring up an important point about entrepreneurship, particularly what it means to be an entrepreneur. If you’ve found yourself asking that question on an occasion, you’re not alone. To be quite honest, being an entrepreneur means different things to different people. Some say that the words “businessman” and “entrepreneur” are synonyms; others believe that businessmen (women) who are also entrepreneurs are the people who make the world a better place, in addition to making money. I’m inclined to agree with the second definition and not just in terms of Corporate Social Responsibility of a company and charity work (although those are very important). In addition to CSR and charity work, an entrepreneur should also be aiming to make the people around them better.

Most businesses start off as a one (maximum two) persons’ job, and that’s absolutely fine. However, as I have said at the start of this post, it’s not going to be that way forever. Sooner or later, you would start feeling overwhelmed with all the work you’d have to do by yourself and would have to start hiring people full-time instead of outsourcing, and these people should be an integral part of your company and your brand. Every single member of staff in your company is working towards the same goals, hoping to achieve the same thing – make the company successful. However, they also have their personal goals and aspiration that they’re hoping to realise by working for you. A true entrepreneur doesn’t dismiss those goals and aspirations but welcomes and embraces them, doing their best to help his or her employees realise them. And this starts with delegating.

In essence, when you hire someone to work for you, you’re inviting them to be a contributor to the development of your brand with the help of their own knowledge, skills and experience, as well as personal qualities. A truly good entrepreneur understands the importance of diversity in the workplace, especially in today’s business world, and does their best to create a team of diverse people that would work well together and come up with innovative solutions that would benefit the company. He or she understands that the team is there to help move the company forward, and delegating various tasks to them is the very way this can be done. I’m now going to give you an example of a successfully executed delegation by a savvy entrepreneur.

A young University graduate (let’s call her Jacinta) decides to set up her own online company that produces bespoke digital solutions for publishing companies. She is very well-versed in coding, web development and computer programming, but her web design skills aren’t as well-developed. A few months after the launch, the company is performing quite well, or so Jacinta thinks, and she’s set up an office below her flat. She’s got a decent client list and until now, they’ve been very happy with the solutions she’s provided for them. However, a couple of her clients have recently downsized and have less budget to operate with than before. They had to drop their web design providers because they were charging too much for a single service, so they approach Jacinta to see if she would provide web design services as part of her bespoke package. Jacinta is unsure – on the one hand, she’s got her pick of clients and can handle losing one if it came to that, but on the other hand, what if it’s going to become an ongoing industry trend? The economy isn’t great to say the least and if the rest of Jacinta’s clients are dissatisfied with her because she can’t provide web design services, what if she loses a lot more than a single client?

So after doing some research and learning that this is indeed an ongoing industry issue, Jacinta decides to interview some web designers. She hires one web designer called Frank after two rounds of interviews and has him do a couple of projects using his skills and experience. The client ends up relieved and decides to keep Jacinta’s company on their retainer for the foreseeable future. The rest of Jacinta’s clients are ecstatic – web design is now included as an option to choose from for her bespoke packages, and her list of clients grows even more.

By hiring Frank, Jacinta has accomplished several things. Firstly, she recognised the changing needs expectations of her clients and responded to them accordingly. Secondly, she added a new income stream to her company and became opened to exploring new markets. Thirdly, she gave Frank an opportunity to be a part of her brand and achieve his professional goals. This is how a true entrepreneur operates – by delegating tasks they aren’t best at to their employees. What can Jacinta do next? For example, she can hire an accountant to help her with bookkeeping, or a sales rep to represent her company at industry events. The possibilities for delegating are endless.

Delegating Tasks for a Better Result

If you’re unsure how to delegate, I can tell you that the way you do it depends on where your business and you are at currently. This is because at each stage of both your career and your company’s development, you’re a professional with different levels of skills and experience that affect the way you run your company. Therefore, you need to know your own strengths and weaknesses and those of your employees in order to make decisions about the delegation process. I’ve provided a small scheme below that explains the levels I’m referring to in this paragraph and how you can operate on each level.

If you’re just starting out as an entrepreneur but you’ve already got some people working for you as full-time hires, the best thing you can do is be your own company’s best sales representative. Working on ongoing projects after you’ve surpassed the “one-person operation” stage is time-consuming and quite difficult to accomplish on your own, so I recommend that you delegate them to the people you’ve hired for that very purpose and invest your own time into promoting and selling. Projects are great, but they’re no good to anyone if you don’t have any customers lined up eager to purchase your product from you. It is your job to get out there and make sure your business is seen by clients, suppliers, investors, venture capitalists, and even potential partners for things such as franchising and referral schemes, as a company they would want to do business with. Networking is important, as I’ve emphasised in several of my other posts, and you are the very person behind the business – you should be the one representing it at networking events and other events of the sort, because YOU are the one who has the best idea of its vision and what it needs. Meeting people and making connections is how you realise your vision – internally, with the support of the people you’ve hired, and externally, with the help that comes from those connections you’ve made during networking events.

If you’ve got some years of experience under your belt and have started your own company after quitting a full-time job or being made redundant, the above advice about not carrying the weight of your entire company on your shoulders and concentrating on representing it still applies. However, unlike a beginning entrepreneur, you have the experience that makes you understand certain risks and know when to not take them. People who are working for you are depending on you and you need to take all the reasonable efforts in order not to let them down and to ensure that their job is appreciated. Self-employment is a wonderful thing, but you need to keep in mind that it doesn’t always work out, which is a cause for concern, especially if you have a family to support. Entrepreneurship is always risky, and you have more to lose than a “young” entrepreneur who is fairly new to the world of work.

Finally, if you have retired after spending years as an employee of some organisation and want to start your own company, the point about being your own sales representative still stands. Your experience is on your side here – you probably know how the buyer-seller relationships work and how to foster them. You also likely understand the risks associated with not choosing a partner carefully and know to exercise appropriate caution. Nonetheless, you need to be prepared for the unexpected rejections and rocky starts. Experience and knowledge would only get you so far – you need to offer great ideas that today’s customers would find interesting and that would make them want to buy your product. Being able to understand your audience is the key here. If the thought of engaging with, for example, a younger audience, doesn’t bring you anything but dread, perhaps entrepreneurship isn’t for you.

Being an entrepreneur is not an easy job – no two working days would be the same for you, you might have to work with people with whom you don’t really get along on a daily basis, face rejection from many customers and constantly keep your hand on the pulse of industry trends. Entrepreneurship would also mean unpredictable long hours and, especially at the start, uncertainty about whether it would actually work out. I’ll be honest – if everything I’ve listed doesn’t sound like something you could take facing for a large period of time, perhaps you should consider being employed by someone rather than taking the self-employment route. Because, despite the difficulties that come with the job, entrepreneurship can, and should, be one of the most enjoyable and rewarding things you could ever do. And working with the people together towards developing and expanding a company that you all love through the means of delegating to them and combining their skills, knowledge and experience with your own is incredible. This is how you get real results and reap rewards for everyone involved – you, your company and your employees. If you don’t love what you do, your results would reflect that and you would end up letting down both yourself and your employees. Don’t let that happen – if you don’t love what you do, don’t do it, but if you do – prepare to work hard and hopefully, all of the hard work would pay off.

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