Sun 15 Feb 2015 | By:

How To Master Small Business Delegation In 4 Simple Steps‏

How To Master Small Business Delegation In 4 Steps‏Peter is a newly registered business owner with a handful of employees. His business has healthy signs of revenue, customer acquisition, and controlled expenses/taxes. On paper you’d think Peter was on top of the world.

Reality: Peter felt like he was drowning.

His days were consumed with task lists, Email, phone calls, payroll, purchasing, customer support, sales, and a bunch of other things bucketed in the category of “logistics.” He was spending all of his time maintaining the business.

His natural tendency is to be hands-on. Now he’s spread so thin that he can’t do any one thing well. This pace was unsustainable and he was feeling the onset of burnout.

He hoped that spending time away from work would help. It didn’t. It actually compounded the problem. While he was away the issues would pile up and be waiting for him when he returned. Work was seeping into evenings, weekends and vacations.

What was obvious to him was that if things didn’t change soon he was going to have to quit. The freedom he was chasing when he started the business felt further away than it ever had before.

He’s not alone…but you know that because you’ve felt the same way.

We know small business owners have a lot at stake. When something goes wrong it’s the business owner that feels the most impact. So instinctually, like Peter, they get involved with almost everything. It’s natural given that most new small business owners had to do everything when the business was getting started.

The very involvement that launched the business is now the governor limiting growth.

The solution is to have an effective delegation strategy. Here are 4 steps of I’ve used to help delegate and lighten my workload.

1) Identify what can be delegated

Whether you believe it or not, there are things in your business that you don’t need to do. Begin identifying those things by making a list of activities that do not directly build your business. Here are a few ideas to get you thinking:

– Reading and responding to Email

– Website creation and maintenance

– Paying bills

– Collecting payments

– Booking appointments

– Property maintenance

– Almost anything you don’t like to do

– Almost anything you’re not skilled to do

The next time you feel stressed by your task list ask yourself, can someone else do this?  If the answer is “yes,” then find that someone.

2) Give specific minimum required outcomes

Once you have a person lined up to take over a task it’s time to hand it off. Start by clearly communicating your expected outcomes. For example, if someone is monitoring your inbox you could expect every Email response to happen within 4 business hours of receipt.

Be clear and specific so you can correctly manage expectations.

3) Create boundaries for activities

Your team needs to know where the boundaries are so they can effectively work within them. Any time your team needs to ask your approval before taking action the delegation breaks down. Providing a framework gives your team a perspective and empowerment to take action.

Zappos does this exceptionally well. They empower all of their employees to “wow” their customers by giving specific guidelines to follow. As long as employees stay within those boundaries anything goes. And that’s not limited to WOWing customers. It’s everyone. Their mission states, “We seek to WOW our customers, our co-workers, our vendors, our partners, and in the long run, our investors.” 

Another advantage to creating boundaries is it gives your team creative license to come up with better ways to do things. It provides them freedom to explore options that you don’t even know exist.

Inspect and review results

Delegation is not a single moment in time event. To get the most value from delegation efforts you will need to review the process and examine results. You may discover inefficiencies or best practices that can be shared with others on the team. Or, you may realize you delegated something that really should stay on your plate.

At first this review will feel mechanical. After a few conversations you will get more key insights that will help you become a more effective delegator. Small business leaders have one resource more valuable than any other: time. Using this 4 step delegation process will free up a leader’s valuable time to concentrate efforts on activities that move the business forward.

Is there any task you know should be delegated out but you just can’t let it go? I’d love to hear about it and help! Just jump and join the conversation on Twitter!

About Aaron Armour

Aaron has been managing teams for more than 15 years, some as large as 200 employees. He has managed business units with $36 million in revenue and projects with $50 million budgets. Aaron is passionate about helping managers lead people and thrill clients. Manager Launch Pad was created to help managers experience tremendous growth through practical tips, resources and mentorship. Read more about Aaron at and connect with him on Facebook and LinkedIn.