Small business owners often suffer from Superhero Syndrome a term coined by Chris Ducker, which refers to the disease that plagues entrepreneurs by making them believe that just because they CAN do something, they should do it themselves.
The bookkeeping, the copywriting, the filing, the Facebook advertising, the video editing; oh, yeah, you can do that! And that. And that…
Hold up, superhero business owner, something’s got to give! You knew I was going to say that, of course. But who will replace you, you ask? How will you find them and train them? And can you afford to hire people?
I probably don’t need to convince you that there are millions of good freelancers, virtual assistants, and other professionals who can make light work of all these jobs.
Usually where an overworked business owner needs convincing is that it’s imperative to immediately start delegating and managing your time better. It’s not only OK to let go; but your business will only grow if you delegate tasks in any and all areas that don’t include strategy, planning, or sales.
You have a decision to make — and it’s not whether or not to find someone to help out (that’s a given). You need to decide what to hand off and what to keep on your plate.
So let’s figure this out.
Start with a data dump of all the tasks you do in your business. Include even those tasks that don’t actually have anything to do with your business but which, if handed off to someone else, would allow you to spend more time on your business. Don’t forget to include:
Tasks you don’t want to do
Are you aware of certain roles you fill, that you genuinely dislike? Maybe it’s checking email, or doing research for content you want to create. Would your enjoyment of your business skyrocket if you never had to tend to these tasks? Then these are the first ones to go.
Tasks you’d have to teach yourself to do
If you’re like most small business owners, when faced with a task you don’t know how to do, you simply head to Google and ask. With all the instructional content and apps out there, it’s easy to get sucked into believing that you can prepare your books, or design a logo, or even learn just enough code to make that super easy tweak to the font on your website. After all, that blogger makes it look so easy on that 7-minute YouTube video… See, I know all about that, because I’ve done my share of that nonsense, too!
The sad fact is, if you have to teach yourself how to do something, that means it’s not second nature to you. Someone else out there can easily do it, however. Make a list of categories that suck you in, and bravely outsource those. (You probably don’t do a good job of them anyway.)
The easy or rote tasks that take 5 or 10 minutes to accomplish
Most entrepreneurs have a list (whether written or not) of daily tasks that must be done. Updating your social media feeds, moving files into your shared Dropbox, or keeping up with industry news falls into this category. Yes, you need to make sure that these things get done, but you don’t have to be the one to do them.
If you find yourself saying “it’s easy enough to just do myself” then these are the exact tasks you must let someone else take over. Training someone else to do them may take three times as long that first time, but once you’ve done it, imagine the time you’ll save for more important things!
Tasks you enjoy, but which really are not all that challenging, and do nothing to move your business ahead
I had a friend who would vacuum or neaten her desk whenever she was faced with a task she knew she had to conquer. When her back was pressed against a deadline, she’d get the real work done, but tidying up was her way of staying busy and kidding herself that she was working.
Addressing envelopes, sending correspondence to new contacts from a trade show or networking event, making personal appointments, or planning trip itineraries, all fall under this category. Make your preferences known, and then delegate these tasks. It hurts to admit this, but you might only be doing them because you’re avoiding something else that truly needs your attention. Enjoyable tasks are the perfect procrastination fodder.
Tasks that take you longer than they would take a pro
Professionals exist because they’ve spent thousands of hours doing what they do, honing a craft or skill to near perfection. They make it look easy because it IS easy — for them. If you find yourself staring at a blank screen or killing hours every week looking for images for your blog posts, find someone to do it. If your data entry skills suck, but you need to organize data into a spreadsheet, why would you put yourself through it? There are people who are wizards with spreadsheets, so let them quickly and easily work their magic.
It all comes down to your wise use of time. Once you see how costly it is to squander your valuable time, when you could be using your skills to sell your business out in the world, you’ll step back and let others step in to do this work.
Learning to be great at business means you have to lose the Superwoman cape. Focus only on what you must do. Delegate or hire out the rest.
Remember that scene in The Incredibles where Edna the super suit designer throws the crumpled ball of paper at Bob’s head?