When you're starting a business, you'll often find yourself wearing many hats, often out of necessity. After all, if your operations are small, you simply can't afford to hire new personnel to handle marketing or accounting. This is understandable and part of the growth process.
But once your business has grown legs and can sustain itself, the best entrepreneurs take a step back, remove themselves from the day-to-day operations, and allow others to step in and fill the void. Still, this doesn't sit well with a lot of business owners.
"It's my business!" they cry. "I need to manage every aspect."
And while it might feel like that’s the case—especially at first—hanging onto every department can cause the company to stagnate, along with the very real risk of gaining the reputation of a micromanager.
But how do you let go of the fear that if you let go of some of the control over your company, it will fail? The key for success is trust. What follows are ways to build an environment conducive to trust in your business and how doing so gives your company strategic advantages.
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Managing "The Fear"
One of the biggest problems entrepreneurs run into—especially those who are 100 percent dedicated to their companies—is having a hard time recognizing when to let go. For some, this means being incapable of knowing when it's time to move onto another project. But for most, it spells an inability to see how their direct involvement could actually hold a company back.
If you look at it from an objective standpoint, the reason why a business owner's involvement could hold a company back becomes quite clear: he or she is only one person, and there are only so many hours in the day.
There comes an inevitable point in time when he or she can't take on anymore work during a given day, and that means the company can’t continue to accelerate its growth. Say goodbye to scale and say hello to the same old, same old.
Now, if you were to ask a business owner if she'd like to be complicit in preventing her business from growing, she'd emphatically say no. But failing to let go of certain tasks leads to one inevitable end; a business failing to reach the level of success it could.
Managing your fears is actually the same thing as letting go of some element of control over the finer workings of your business. And this process of letting go is more commonly referred to as delegation.
The Art of Delegation
Many business owners have tried to delegate tasks in the past, had a bad experience, and gave up on the idea altogether. The same goes for outsourcing. It's understandable why this would sour some people on the prospect of delegating, especially vital tasks. More often than not, your attempts have failed for one reason and one reason alone:
You hired the wrong people.
It's pretty simple when you get right down it. And while that might not be the answer you want to hear, it's the truth. Often, business owners offload tasks because they're overwhelmed, and aren't that picky with who they hand the projects over to. But that's a huge mistake because not only will those tasks not be completed as they should be, it'll be your fault because you handed over the task without giving providing proper guidance.
It's a pickle, to be certain. Thankfully, this scenario is preventable.
Planning to Delegate
Before you assign any of the tasks you'd normally complete to your employees, you must put a plan in place. This begins with establishing an environment that maximizes your employees' potential.
For delegating, specifically, the process begins with writing up a detailed description of how you do what you do. Write out a step-by-step guide to hand over to your employees that shows them precisely how you've been accomplishing these tasks you're not entrusting them with.
By taking the time to complete this step, your expectation can then be that your employees will perform the required tasks exactly as you've specified. This makes it easy to delegate tasks to new or replacement employees since you'll never run into a situation where, "Only Todd knew how to do that."
This also makes for streamlined operations when your managers hire new employees. The hiring process can go on then without your involvement, all because you basically took good notes.
You can never have too much documentation. And though it might feel tedious at the time, you'll be thankful you made the effort later.
Along that same line, you should also require employees to whom you delegate to submit regular reports. These reports should be about more than just profit and loss and instead show you information about shipping, inventory, response times, customer service complaints and whatever else is applicable to your industry. Requesting these reports will give you a bird's eye view of how your business is functioning and gives you the opportunity to then step in only if you absolutely need to.
That's the real key here: delegation with monitoring. It's imperative that you're not involved in the microcosm that is the inner workings of your business, but you absolutely must know what's going on in your company.
Related Article: Outsource Your Own Job: Learn How to Delegate Effectively
Building an Environment of Trust
When you're an entrepreneur, your company is more than just your life's blood. It's your passion. Many business owners eat, sleep and dream their companies. And that's just fine; passion is a good thing. But micromanaging isn't and it can impede progress. Instead, you need to focus on building an environment of trust in your company that lends itself well to delegation.
To feel comfortable stepping back a bit, you have to trust your employees, and that trust starts with you. From hiring the right people to building easy-to-follow processes, you need to establish the framework within which your team can work most effectively. Once that’s established, you can feel confident knowing your company—your baby—is in good hands.