puzzle1This is the fourth part of the “Is Your Business Making These 10 Mistakes?” series. Part 1 can be found here, Part 2 is here and Part 3 is here.
Be Good at Delegating
One of the hardest things for entrepreneurs to do is to delegate. We think that we can do everything better than everybody else. Most of the time, this is true, because we know our businesses better than everybody else, we care more about them than everyone on our team and we have a broader set of skills than our employees.
However, just because we are better than other people at something, it doesn’t mean that we have to do it. If you make chocolates, take orders and deliver them, you’ll hit saturation point very soon. That’s bad for your business and your health. This is a lesson that took me a long time to learn.
First of all, let me start by saying this: there ARE people out there that are better than us at what we do. But, there are two problems:

  • When you’re getting started, you can’t afford them.
  • Entrepreneurs have a wide range of skills and we tend to look for someone that has the same skills but is better at them than we are. This is almost impossible because different people have different skill sets. The solution: find ONE person for each skill. Maybe you’re great at web design, copywriting, sales and finances. It’s not very likely that someone out there has the same skills and is better than you at them. But I can guarantee that you will find a better web designer than you. You’ll find a much better copywriter too. Don’t look for all the skills in one person.

OK, we talked about why you need to delegate and how you can find the right people to delegate tasks to. Now, let’s talk about effective delegation. These are some tips that will help you become really good at delegating:

  • Give SPECIFIC instructions.
  • The outcome should be MEASURABLE.
  • The goal should be REALISTIC.
  • There should be a DEADLINE.
  • Give people all the MATERIALS they need to complete the task or tell them where they can get them from.
  • Explain the REASONS and goals. People work a lot better when they understand why something is being done.
  • Tell people whether they have FREEDOM to choose how to do something (as long as it’s done) or if you want it done in a specific way.
  • Give people FEEDBACK on their results.
  • UNDERSTAND that the process will get better and better as you work more with those people and they learn how you like things done.
  • Ask for INPUT. Ask the people on the trenches how you can improve the process.
  • Make yourself AVAILABLE for support.

How to Become a Great Problem Solver
There are great books written on problem solving, but my approach is a lot simpler.

  1. Is there really a problem? What is the worst thing that could happen if I do nothing about this?
  2. If I decide there is a problem and it needs to be solved, I take a pen and a notebook, and create three columns: problems, reasons and solutions. In the problems column I write down what’s going on. In the reasons column I write down why I think it’s happening. And, in the solutions column I write a step-by-step plan of action to solve the problem. For example, last month I had very little free time to finish a very important project. In the problem column I wrote “little free time”. In the reasons column I wrote “John Doe calls me five times a day and we stay on the phone for half and hour each time he calls”. In the solution column I wrote “1. Figure out a nice way to tell this client that I can’t keep doing this anymore. 2. Call client and communicate my decision to him.”
  3. Don’t get hung up for weeks trying to find the perfect solution. Act now and correct later if necessary.

If you have a hard decision to make, I have two suggestions for you:

  1. Sleep on it. I’m not saying you should wait two weeks to make a decision, but one or two days is OK. Don’t think about the solution all the time. Think about something else and often the solution will come to you (yeah, it sounds a little spooky, I know, but it really works this way).
  2. Talk to other people. Sometimes outsiders have a much better perspective than you.

I hope your liked this article. Look out for Part 5 of this post tomorrow.