14 Aug Whenever Possible, Get Someone Else to Do It
You Can Only Do So Much
Your role as an entrepreneur isn’t to become the world’s best programmer, graphic designer, marketer, or SEO expert. These can be some of the keys to your success, but you don’t need to be the person doing everything, turning all the keys. When you take on these unnecessary tasks, you’re limiting yourself tremendously.
Your only real job is to grow your company and make it as big as you want it to be.
Delegating those tasks where you lack either proficiency or the time to do them is often a wise investment. There are only 24 hours in a day, and you need to eat, sleep, and be mindful of your needs. You can choose to be a Renaissance man and do everything yourself, but that just isn’t the most efficient or effective use of your time and personal resources.
Leveraging the skills and time of other people is like buying more time for you to do the tasks you are best at doing. Hiring others also leaves you the time and energy to be fully engaged in your enterprise, not distracted doing tasks in which you lack expertise. Even if you are gifted at a specific task, performing that task might not be the best use of your time.
At the beginning of your entrepreneurial journey, you may not have the luxury of delegating to others. However, as soon as you can afford to do so, make this wise reinvestment a priority for yourself and your business.
Time vs. Money
It may seem obvious, but it’s worth saying: the less time you spend achieving your desired outcome, the better. It’s curious to note you would never know this if you saw how rookie entrepreneurs manage their time.
Most people who launch a new business don’t have the money to create perfect systems or purchase expensive software to automate tasks. As a result, they handle every job with little or no help, including product development, marketing, customer service, logistics, etc. Managing your time wisely is absolutely necessary. Procrastinating, being inefficient, and wasting time on unproductive tasks will kill your business before it has a chance to be successful. Unfortunately, this is often the fate of entrepreneurs who don’t manage their time wisely.
As a business grows, however, doing everything oneself becomes impossible. You can easily get absorbed doing tedious tasks and never find the time to manage, guide, and troubleshoot your business. When your cash flow reaches a certain point, you want to ask yourself, “How can I use this money to buy more time?”
Time is your most valuable asset. You want to position yourself so you are working on your business, not in your business.
Doing vs. Thinking
As your business grows and you begin thinking of ways to create more time in your schedule to focus on more essential tasks, you need to strategize (1) how to create more time, and (2) how you will use the time you create.
Start by conducting a study of how you use your time on a typical day. For at least one week, write down every task you perform and how long it took. Be thorough, and break the tasks into categories such as placing orders, bookkeeping, marketing, shipping and receiving, talking on the phone, etc. There are free apps to help you do this, and there is also a template available with Microsoft Excel.
After you’ve carefully logged your time for a week, the next step is to perform an analysis. What tasks are taking up the majority of your time? What jobs are you doing that take longer than you think they should? What are the more mundane and menial tasks that are consuming your time? What essential tasks are you skipping or not devoting enough time to completing? What jobs can others do for you? Is there any technology that would make a specific task less time-consuming?
Most critically, analyze the data in terms of DO jobs vs. THINKING jobs. DO jobs require minimal skill and may potentially be automated. THINKING jobs can only be performed by someone heavily involved in the business or with particular expertise. More often than not, this will be you!
Data entry, shipping orders, counting inventory, and many other tasks can often be automated or hired out relatively inexpensively.
For an e-commerce store, warehousing, picking, packing, shipping, handling, and even returns can be outsourced to a company like ShipBob. Outsourcing might increase overall costs, but the time you’ll save will allow you to focus on the next most important development for your business.
As an alternative, if you are operating on a shoestring, you can often hire someone at the minimum wage and train them to take on a task like order fulfillment.
Another task you might want to outsource early in your business is bookkeeping and payroll if you have employees. Having a reputable Certified Public Accountant (CPA) to prepare your taxes and give tax advice can save huge amounts of time and money. Finding a CPA familiar with your specific industry is ideal, but any CPA is better than an amateur entrepreneur attempting to make sense of the complex web of tax laws. A good CPA will keep your business safe with regulations and can help you save money by ensuring you pay only the taxes that are due; you will also get reports it will help you stay in control of your business. If you have only very basic accounting needs, you can leverage a service like Bench for a few hundred dollars a month.
You might be able to automate some jobs with the help of an appropriate software program. For example, if you’re using email to seek partnerships for your business, it might be wise to use software to automate email follow-ups. This can save hours of precious time every week!
Another example of software automation saving time is through leveraging platforms like Shopify to run an e-commerce store for you rather than hiring a software developer to build a website from scratch. Using this service could save lots of time and money!
Most DO jobs can be automated with software or outsourced to a freelancer or low-cost employee. There’s no point in doing lower-level tasks that absorb your time, energy, and focus and prevent you from the important THINK tasks of directing your business, marketing strategy, campaign analysis, creating new revenue, adding new products or services, and opening new markets.
Your goal should be to outsource as many DO jobs as possible and eventually outsource all of them. Once your business reaches this milestone, you will only be doing the THINK jobs.
Some entrepreneurs have a difficult time delegating to others. They may not trust that a hired person will perform to a high enough standard. However, to be successful, you have to delegate. You simply can’t do everything yourself, and your business will never grow if you hold on to every task. Take the time to check references for the people you intend to hire. Read the online reviews and talk to others who use the automated software you’re considering. Do your due diligence, train people, install the software, and let go.
Following up, giving constructive feedback, and doing staff performance reviews are necessary to keep things running smoothly, and you’ll need to communicate regularly with freelancers. Occasionally a vendor, employee, freelancer, or particular software program won’t work out. Remember our discussion on failure? Keep moving forward!
When you hire someone for a THINK position, don’t make the mistake of oversimplifying the role. When you want someone to manage your Facebook marketing campaign you’ll miss the mark if you employ a person whose qualification is that they have previously placed ads on Facebook. Successful Facebook advertising requires an understanding of human psychology, awareness of current trends, experience with Facebook analytics, knowledge about the target demographic, creativity, and sharp analytical skills. This skill set is more specialized than many people think, and the marketers who are worth hiring usually charge quite a bit. The reality is that if you don’t have the budget to hire good thinkers, your money will go to waste. On the other hand, if you want to generate millions in revenue, you will need to hire a thinker.
Your responsibility as an entrepreneur is to divide your business into DO tasks and THINK tasks, and then hire people with the appropriate skill set for the THINK tasks.
Systematize Your Business
Before you hire either doers or thinkers, it’s helpful to have systems so the people you hire will work efficiently toward your goals. When people work in a consistent and predictable environment, they are usually happier, more productive, loyal, and choose to remain in their jobs longer.
These systems must have precise instructions about the expectations of the job. This is especially important for DO jobs since the work is more mundane and it’s more challenging to understand how a person’s work contributes to the bottom line.
Here’s an example of how a marketing campaign could be systematized.
The campaign manager oversees and manages everyone involved in the execution of the marketing campaign. Part of this person’s job is to write emails to attract the attention of influential people and then manage the responses. This is a THINK job because it requires writing ability, persuasion skills, knowledge of human psychology, adaptability, and the supervision of others. For this project, the campaign manager would command the highest pay.
Prospecting involves finding the influencers who will be receiving the pitch and collecting their contact information. This is a DO job because the tasks would be repetitive and can be taught relatively easily. Software is available for a prospector to plug in an URL and receive the name and address of the individual who owns that website. The prospector would be trained to use this software and given a list of qualifiers to help them find the Best point of contact. This is a job that can be outsourced to someone overseas for under $10/hr.
The person doing this job uses outreach software to upload email templates written by the campaign manager. The contact list created by the person who does the prospecting is also uploaded. The software schedules the already written emails to be sent and automates follow-up communications. This is a DO job because the tasks are repetitive.
Piecing It Together
It is vitally important that the different people working on the campaign work efficiently as a team to achieve the desired result of attracting the influencers. Here is an example of how this could work.
- The campaign manager researches which influencers would be a good fit for this campaign. He or she then writes the email templates for the pitch, provides instructions and training for the prospector, and gives any personalization instructions to the email coordinator.
- The prospector finds influencers to contact, including their name, email address, and other variables included in the campaign manager’s instructions.
- The email coordinator then uploads the contact information to the outreach software and schedules the emails to go out according to the campaign manager’s instructions.
- The campaign manager monitors the email inbox and persuades influential respondents to work with the company.
- The campaign manager monitors the campaign’s performance and considers ways to improve the system and the campaign.
This is just one example, but there are many different aspects of your business that should be systematized so you can focus on being an owner instead of an operator.