In Order to Scale You Must Be Obsessed with Delegation


The difference between someone that thinks they are a business owner and someone that thinks they are an entrepreneur is one of mindset mostly.

A business owner looks at the work to be done and asks – how can I get all of this done? An entrepreneur looks at the same work and ponders – how can I get someone else to do all of this?

I know that may seem simplistic, and it certainly is, but if you create a business, and you do all of the work – especially if you do all the work because you currently have the time – you are bound to fall into the trap of business.

And that’s a trap that some find impossible to escape.

From the very beginning, you must understand that there are very few things in your business that it makes sense for you actually to do. Of course, that can be very hard to wrap your head around when you’re still trying to gain enough traction to call what you do a business, but it’s crucial.

In my experience people who start businesses that do something they don’t know how to get this the most because they must.

Think about it. Let’s say you are a consultant, and you see a huge opportunity to help people do something like tax planning, but you know nothing about accounting or the tax code.

You would be forced to go out and find people who could do the work, right?

Now let’s say you are a marketing consultant, and you start a marketing consulting practice. Well, by gosh you know how to write a good ad and you know just enough about SEO to have an impact and after watching a few videos you can customize a WordPress theme and guess what – you’ve created a job!

Jobs are very hard to scale and even harder to sell.

If you want to grow your business, you must become obsessed with delegating all but a few things. (Oh and delegation and abdication are not the same things – there’s a right way and a wrong way to delegate – more on that to come.)

If this idea has you intrigued, let’s take a look at how you get started.

Take inventory

The first thing you must do is take a look at all of the tasks you currently do in your business. If you’re a solopreneur, there’s a good chance this is a very long list.

The point of this exercise is to start understanding what you can and should delegate. Take a look at this list and start categorizing the work by importance.

Mandi Ellefson has a handy little Scalable Toolkit that offer some forms you can use for this exercise. She emphasizes thinking about work in the context of things like work you hate, you must do, and you can’t do.

From this list start assigning value. There’s value to the business and cost to have someone else do it. Don’t underestimate the output of someone far better at something than you either. I have a bookkeeping VA that charges $65/hr. That may seem high to some, but I hate this kind of work so much that it takes me far longer to do it than someone who strangely love this work. The output vs. cost is significant.

Chris Ducker has a great list that might help you get started – 101 Tasks You Can Outsource to Virtual Staff

Own fewer things

Now that you’ve made your list and hopefully a commitment to outsource and delegate it’s time to figure what you can’t delegate.

Even if you put together a killer internal team, there are a few things that CEOs/Business Owner simply can’t delegate. (How you approach them might change, but you’ll always own them so why not start doing just that right now!)

  • Vision – you must have an idea of where you are going and why you are going there and what difference you going there is going to make in the lives of your customers, staff, and community. You can’t ever delegate this, but many never go here in the first place.
  • Culture – the core beliefs, operating standards, and core story are something you have to continue to nurture, uphold and teach no matter how large your staff grows. Eventually, this is lead by example, but it must be intentional.
  • Client Relationships – You may have project managers (I hope you do), but how your clients feel about your business, understand the results they gain by working with you and grow to appreciate what your business means in their life is something of great value to your business and must be guarded and practiced.
  • Rainmaking – So this one is a little tricky. At first you will be the rainmaker, the person who brings in the big contracts, constructs the sales playbook and monitors feedback throughout the sales process. But, at some point, if your business depends on you for this, you’re stuck – you have to build a sales system that others can easily operate before you can become totally free.
  • Money Management – I already mentioned that I don’t like bookkeeping, so I delegate every element of it. I have an accountant for tax preparation as well. I even work with a coach who is focused on the growth metrics inside my business, but I insist on staying on top of key performance indicators and managing the money inside the business.

Focus on high payoff

Once you understand the things you must own, it’s time to start creating priorities and managing your days, weeks, months and quarters based on doing more of these high payoff activities.

At first this may well include spending a great deal of time documenting how the work is done and recruiting, hiring and training internal and external team members to take over more and more of the work.

Perhaps then you can free up more time to go sell more work and start to create processes that allow you to train others to sell more work.

Then, maybe, just maybe you’ll find a day or two here and there where you can lock yourself away and come up with a new product or service innovation that allows you to step into and conquer an entirely new market.

And soon enough you’ll find yourself in your lab designing marketing experiments aimed and tackling new channels and entirely new ways to generate clients.

That my friends is how scale happens.

Sure, there are two hundred and seventy-three million steps in between, but it starts with this mindset – how can you get someone else to do everything that needs to be done.

The Future of Leadership in 2016


Everyone wants to be a leader, but not everyone acknowledges the big difference between managing and leading. And for small business owners looking to grow their business, making the transition from running it to leading it, can be all the difference. The first step is knowing what exactly leadership requires – now and in the future.

So, what does the future of leadership look like and how can small businesses adapt?

01 – Creative

“Creative leadership involves blowing up the status quo, and out of the chaos, building a new world.” – Travis Turner, Writer and Blogger

Fast Company claims that creativity is the most important leadership quality for success. “All companies depend on ideas and ingenuity” affirms leading creativity expert Sir Ken Robinson. And you have to look no further than the world’s Most Innovative Companies to know he’s right. Small business leaders can create a culture of creativity by:

  • Using tools and technologies that help facilitate creativity and capturing ideas. My personal favourites include Evernote and TranscribeMe.
  • Encouraging creative brainstorming in their teams. Candor provides a handy way to do this and avoid “groupthink” or bias.
  • Creating a physical workspace that positively impacts productivity, collaboration and inspiration. From specially designed, fully equipped spaces like Facebook’s Analog Research Lab, to the more “low-fi” approach adopted by Stanford D-school, it’s worth learning from global best practice to see what’s achievable in your own business.

02 – Fair

“No man will make a great leader who wants to do it all himself, or to get all the credit for doing it” – Andrew Carnegie, Business magnate and Industrialist

Fair leadership is good business. A new leadership model is emerging that is characterised by less hierarchy and looser boundaries – enabling faster decision making, more ownership over projects and the freedom for employees to take the initiative. Companies like Google have valued a “wafer thin hierarchy” from the start.  Embracing fairness in an organisation can involve:

  • Creating clarity around decision making; i.e. removing ambiguity, providing clear explanations for decisions and keeping everyone in the team abreast of what is going on.
  • Encouraging feedback and communication; Happiily is designed for staff to have a voice – they can anonymously share feedback around work related issues and this total honesty gives leaders the opportunity to address any sticking points.
  • Establishing designated support teams; For example, empowering HR to have a much bigger role beyond just recruitment – coaching, mentoring, championing the company culture, and aligning staff to the company values.

03 – Authentic (and Values-Driven)

“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it ” – Simon Sinek, Author and Motivational Speaker

What you stand for is just as important as what you do – and may even eclipse it. The world needs more leaders who are true to themselves and reflect this in their work.  

  • Create a moral code for work; Creative studio Sagmeister & Walsh always ask three questions before they on a project: “Can we give it our heart? Can we learn something? Can we touch people’s hearts?”
  • Establish a clear set of values; Capturing what you stand for in writing is a great way to get employees on board, share your values with customers and remind yourselves every single day of what’s important. Check out Method’s humanifesto as a great example.
  • Champion transparency; Internally this may be by building robust internal communications e.g. weekly debrief meetings or leveraging a company-wide intranet to keep everyone posted on what’s happening within the organization. Externally this may include a weekly newsletter to customers and subscribers, interim and annual reports detailing financial summaries, or a more personal touch – blog posts from senior leaders or social media updates which allow communication to be real-time and constant.

04 – Collaborative

“The role of a leader is not to have all the ideas; it’s to create a culture where everyone can have ideas” – Sir Ken Robinson, Creativity Expert and Speaker

The most evolved leaders realise that they can’t do everything alone. Their role is to inspire, encourage and grow others.

  • Open communication is key for this to work; Apps like Yammer or even Skype and Google Hangouts are a good way to keep teams in touch with each other, especially cross-office or remotely.
  • Think visually; Some clients may prefer to use Pinterest boards – it’s a great way to share visual inspiration and your boards can be made “secret” from the public.
  • Build trust through transparency – for example, enabling visibility over projects, processes and what everyone is working on.
  • Use a Project management software while collaborating on projects with clients and staff. Integration with other applications such as file-sharing service Box helps make collaboration easy and keep everything in once place.

05 – Visionary

“We have a 150-year plan and vision”, Tristan Walker, founder and CEO of Walker & Co.

From a solid business model to a five-year plan, leaders need to have a strong, unshakeable vision and the ambition to make it a reality. This means they need to stay cognizant of the bigger picture. A project management system like WorkflowMax can give leaders real-time visibility and control over all aspects of the business.

06 – Hungry

“Learn early, learn often” – Drew Houston, CEO and founder of Dropbox

Becoming a great leader is a learning process that never ends. Adopting a “get better” mindset is critical to stay ahead of the competition but requires a high level of self-awareness, a willingness to improve and the humility to grow.

  • Read more to know more; Feedly, a news aggregator app does exactly that, helping you keep your customised reading feeds all in one place. It’s used by leaders like Rod Drury, CEO of innovative accounting firm Xero.
  • Broaden the scope of inspiration; After all, ideas can come from anywhere. Websites like 99U, Brain Pickings, TED, CreativeMornings provide a host of carefully curated inspirational and educational content.
  • Save inspiration for later; Instapaper and Pocket are handy is the browser bookmarklets that allows you to save web pages for later offline reading.

So there you have it. The key tenets of leadership in the future, some handy tips on how businesses can implement them to stay ahead of the curve. For more great advice for small business owners sign up for a FREE agency webinar by John Jantsch, hosted by WorkflowMax – the project management system loved by thousands of agencies around the world.

AuthorBio_150Mallika Goel is a Marketing Copywriter at WorkflowMax – the project management system loved by thousands of agencies around the world. She has over four years of experience agency-side, working with some of New Zealand’s leading brands. Learn more about fuelling your own agency’s success with Duct Tape Marketing and WorkflowMax in a new FREE agency webinar.

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