There is a choice made by all of us. Do we care to just do the work ourselves? Or is it time to start delegating tasks and/or outsourcing that work?
While it's totally respectable to make the decision to just be the person doing the work, for many of us we want to do more. At one point in my own journey, I was just doing freelancing and doing work for others. But I reached a point where I too wanted to do more.
So it was time to learn how to delegate those tasks or the entire projects to others.
Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do.– Steve Jobs
In the beginning, you justify what to delegate by working out how you reallocate that time. Can you use that time to work on a different project? Marketing? Social media? On the business in other ways?
The Delegation Trap
What you absolutely must guard against is giving work and assigning tasks to others, but you, in turn, do something that isn't productive and doesn't help your bottom line. I mean certainly, that can be a choice or a decision.. maybe occasionally it makes sense (eg, you need a break).. but you are losing out on the power and compounding benefits of delegating.
I'll give you some examples in my own business.
This next week I have numerous web development projects on my plate. I have several being worked on already by team members. And several that are currently in my own lap.
One project I'm working on is for a client that I still do all the work for. Yes, there are certain accounts I've had for a long time that I still serve myself. I have at least 5-10 hours blocked for that on my calendar each week minimum.
I have a collection of other smaller tasks for various clients on deck.
This is starting to cap my week? “But Matt, that doesn't sound like a lot of work so far.”
But here's the thing. I've decided to delegate tasks to others so I can focus on other parts of my business. Working “on” my business instead of “in” my business.
So for me, I find a balance. I still do work in my business. And honestly, I think I always will in some amount because I still have a passion for web design. Even Elon Musk has said he spends 80% of his time ‘engineering' and not running his business. By choice.
I'm also having to block time for:
- The actual delegating. Assigning tasks.
- Managing those tasks and projects I delegated — eg, reviewing the work, providing requirements, answering questions etc..
- Marketing — with the help of my ‘virtual assistant' we are doing a lot in the realm of marketing each week and some of that requires my input and time.
- A Podcast — this falls under the category of marketing.
- Social Media activity
- Managing cash flow
- Paying people
- Getting paid
- Business Strategy & Other Management tasks
But none of those additional things would be possible if I spent ALL my time just working on projects myself, right?
Task delegation allows me to focus on growth and building an agency.
Tools of the Delegation Trade
The first thing you have to decide is who you are delegating to. I use a combination of sources. Some of that work gets done in-house. And some of that work I delegate to what I call ‘external teams'.
Depending on the task, I'll find the right person to help me get that done. That might be based on past experience with them, what their focus and competency is, etc.. Rarely does the budget of the project come into the decision process. My soul goal is to just find the right person for the job; quality first thinking.
Then, things move to Trello.
All my teams use it. That's where all the communication and work gets done.
We use a Kanban style workflow.
Some boards are dedicated to a single project (depending on size and scope). Others are dedicated to all of a teams activities and all projects are handled within that one board.
When I have a new request and task from a client I:
- Jot down the requirements.
- Decide if this is mine or if I will delegate.
- Decide who is the best fit for this task.
- I go into Trello and create a card and/or project board.
- I tag the individuals that will help me with that project or task
- All communications are handled right there.
- The tasks move along the board until they are complete.
I will have multiple projects going at a time being done my multiple parties. But they are all easy to manage and visualize with Trello.
Project or task gets done and I notify the client either through email or our Zendesk ticket center; depending on where the request came in.
You Have to Decide
I can't tell you if task delegation is right for you. And it depends largely on what stage in your business you are in and if the cash flow is there.
When I started my web design agency I was initially doing all the work myself. First, I just needed to get work and had no cash flow yet or regular clients.
Then, I reached a stage where I started to outsource tasks or projects on a case by case basis; periodically.
Next, I brought someone onboard in-house to focus on a single client.
And soon after, I hired a VA (virtual assistant) to take care of a lot of the stuff on my plate that I really didn't need to be doing (including managing my support center).
Still, I aligned myself with other sources to get even more work done.
So, my point is.. it doesn't need to happen all at once and you don't need to do it today. You have to gauge where you are at and if it makes sense for your situation.
But those above stages were in my head from day 1. I knew I would someday had a team. And it unfolded naturally.