Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Why are business owners so reluctant to delegate?

At a workshop I was running the other week, some of the delegates looked at me as if I’d just said some very naughty words. I had!

You see, ever since reading Marcus Buckingham’s book ‘Now Discover Your Strengths’ some years ago, I have practiced the concept of improving what I’m good at and delegating (or, as I don’t have any staff, outsourcing) what I’m not so good at or don’t like doing.

I like the idea of people becoming really brilliant at what they love doing, and not having to worry anymore that, for example, they’re poor at maths. They don’t need to be very good at maths, just good enough to get by.

Owners of small businesses have a very steep learning curve when they first start up. While they certainly do need to learn new skills, they tend to go overboard and ‘major in the minor stuff’.

They do not have to become great book-keepers, go to workshops to learn how to design a brilliant brochure or devote hours to building a wonderful website themselves. These are exactly the sort of activities that can and should be outsourced to people who are already great at them.

It’s like a flash of the blindingly obvious when I point this out in workshops – you can almost see those light bulbs glowing!

And yet…..

Talking to a fellow business owner just last week who had been struggling to get her long-overdue accounts in order, I suggested that she consider using a book-keeper in future to avoid the same situation next year. Her reply surprised me. She said that she’d think about it if she found herself behind in the task in a few months’ time.

It seems as though business owners get very attached to every area of their business. They created it and they’re going to take care of it. I know, I’ve done it myself.

But it really doesn’t need to be such a struggle. It isn’t a sin to take the easy route. In fact, it’s a sin not to! Consider the following questions:

· Have you ever worked out your hourly rate?
(I’ll bet it’s more than the £25 or so that a book-keeper or admin person would charge.)

· How many hours do you spend on such tasks each week?

· Have you worked out how much you are potentially losing (because you’re spending time on non-client or business building work),

Are you starting to think differently about delegating?

(c) Louise Barnes-Johnston, 2007

Louise Barnes-Johnston is “The Business Accelerator”. She provides business coaching and mentoring for entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses. Get a copy of her FREE report “10 Ways to Boost Your Business” at

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