When you delegate tasks, you empower someone else to act for you. The act of delegation, then, involves conferring (some of) your functions or powers on another so he or she can act on your behalf.
You can see from the definition of why delegation is so problematic for so many small business people; delegating involves giving some control away. Couple that with the fact that many business people believe that no one else is going to do it (whatever it is) as well as they do it, and you have a group that's very resistant to the delegation.
Delegation is a critical skill for small business success, but it's not uncommon for owners of startup businesses to try to do it all themselves. No one can be good at everything, and running a small business involves so many different tasks and skills that as the business grows some sort of assistance and division of labor becomes necessary for the business to prosper.
Delegating vs. Outsourcing
Other ways you could divide the labor include getting a partner, hiring employees, and outsourcing.
What’s the difference between delegation and outsourcing? Semantics, mainly. Outsourcing involves purchasing goods or subcontracting services from an outside company while delegating often refers to giving work tasks to internal employees. In practice, delegation and outsourcing are often indistinguishable.
Typical Tasks a Business Owner Delegates
Business owners may choose to delegate many of the tasks that larger companies handle in-house. However, they should always weigh the cost-effectiveness of delegating work that they could otherwise handle themselves.
Accounting and Bookkeeping
There are a number of excellent online small business accounting packages that can simplify your accounting and bookkeeping, and as a business owner, you should always have a good grasp of the overall financials. But if you are not comfortable maintaining your basic business financial records, you should use the services of a bookkeeper and/or accountant. The same goes for tax preparation. If you are running a corporation and don't wish to learn the ins and outs of preparing and submitting corporate tax returns, why not leave it to the professionals?
Custom Website Design/Development and Maintenance
Unless you are in the tech business or have significant experience with web design and development, you should hire a professional to design your custom website. Aside from artistry, a good business website needs intuitive design and advanced search engine optimization. Your website is often the face of your business, and a poorly-designed, amateurish-looking website will turn off potential customers very quickly.
Social Media Marketing
As with website design, unless you are thoroughly familiar with social media marketing, you might consider delegating these activities. A good social media marketing campaign needs a plan and requires significant knowledge of social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Once your business reaches a certain size, you should not be the first person to answer the phone for customer questions or complaints or be making calls to customers to schedule appointments. However, the importance of customer service to your business success cannot be overstated, and it is critical to hire the right people to deal with customers.
Shipping and Receiving
If your business routinely takes and ships product orders and/or receives goods, you should delegate the associated tasks such as packing/unpacking, labeling, etc. If you are running a family business, some of these tasks might be ideally suited to children of an appropriate age.
Even if you are knowledgeable about tech, should you really be spending time fixing a Windows crash on an employee's computer, refilling printer cartridges, or dealing with a Wi-Fi issue in your office? Most businesses have a need for IT support services, if only on an irregular basis, so having a reliable tech support service available when needed is important. A good tech service company can also provide advice on new technologies that can help your business grow and/or save you time and money.
If your activities as a business owner require a lot of travel, you may want to delegate the tasks of flight and hotel reservations to a travel agent. Yes, there are many online booking sites where you can make your reservations, but the bewildering number of options can make booking a complex trip hugely time-consuming. Why not have an expert do the research for you?
Delegating work to others, especially your own employees, frees up more time and mental energy for you. It also empowers certain people, like those working on your team at the office, to feel more satisfied with their work, which can reduce absenteeism and staff turnover.