If you want your bookkeeping business to flourish and grow, one of the most important skills you need to acquire is the art of delegation.
We know that is easier said than done.
When we counsel clients to get some help, they respond in one of two ways that you will likely recognize:
- They tell us that they are too busy to delegate. They just don’t have time to explain what they are doing and what needs to be done to someone else.
- Or they tell us that they just don’t dare delegate because they can’t find someone they can trust. They have built their business on trust and they need to ensure they are not undermined by the carelessness of an employee.
Jeffrey Pfeffer, author of What Were They Thinking?: Unconventional Wisdom About Management, describes delegation as the most underutilized and underdeveloped management capability.
There are too many small business owners who insist that it is more efficient to just do it themselves.
What are the symptoms in your bookkeeping business that you need help and have to learn the art of delegation?
Long hours and no relief in sight
When you find yourself working late into the night or getting up at 5 a.m. just to get a start on a work-day, things are moving out of control. You may think that you can work more hours, but inevitably you start making more mistakes, you forget things and you feel your world is closing in.
But if your business is growing and you aren’t getting help to deal with the extra work load, you have to ask yourself why not?
Are you a perfectionist who truly believes that nobody on this planet can do things as well as you?
Do you like the feeling of being indispensable? Are you afraid that your role will dimension if you share your responsibilities?
Nobody is trying to analyze you; these are questions you have to ask yourself and listen to your honest answers.
Where there’s a will, the way is not always clear
Perhaps you want to change, but you honestly aren’t sure how to do that. Of the multitude of tasks that you do daily in your business, which ones could reasonably be passed on to someone else?
A good way to get past that hurdle is to take the time to chart everything that you have to do and identify tasks that are repetitious or which add to your workload but do nothing to augment your bottom line.
For example, because so many bookkeepers operate their businesses at home, we are always struck by how hard they work for their clients, but in between they are dashing off to put a load of clothes in the dryer or run a vacuum over the living room or clean the bathroom.
Perhaps you don’t have to hire a person to do bookkeeping chores in that case; perhaps what you really need is to contract a cleaning service once a week so when Friday afternoon rolls around, your beds are clean, the laundry is done, the bathroom is sparkling and everything is dusted and ready to enjoy.
By charting every chore that you do, you begin to see how your time is divided and where there are opportunities to accept help.
Perhaps you need to buy from others the same services you provide
Many an entrepreneur spends so much time helping other businesses succeed that they don’t have the time to take essential steps to grow their own.
For example, do you need a virtual assistant to help keep your social media pages up to date? Do you need your own bookkeeper to handle your business matters so you are free to focus on your clients?
Are there routine procedures within your firm (invoicing, collecting, replenishing supplies, corresponding with clients, etc.) that could be easily farmed out?
Or do you need one or two more people who have the same skillset as yourself? By paying them a reasonable wage but charging your clients more, could you add to your income without putting in more of your own efforts?
Delegation is not carved in stone
Like all systems you establish in your business, remember that delegated tasks don’t have to stay away from you forever. Perhaps you just need temporary help to get through certain seasons of the year.
Or maybe you need help now because of other responsibilities pressing on your time (care of young children, aging parents, etc.) but when your life circumstances change, you may be more capable of resuming execution of those tasks yourself.
That is why it makes sense to keep track of tasks you delegate and to see how it is working for you. Is it creating the pocket of extra time you needed, or is it barely making a dent in your day?
Delegation can be a trial and error process. If something is working well, can you delegate something else?
Keep in mind that when delegation is down to a science, you should actually be able to take a holiday from your company and return to find everything operating smoothly and efficiently.
Bottom line on delegation
A good bottom line in making decisions on when to get help and what to delegate is to make the decision based on how it will allow you to serve your customers better.
Will it allow you to respond quickly to a client in crisis? Will it help you to grow the array of services you offer? Will it keep you from delaying requests from clients until they become angry?
Will it better represent the value of your time? Are you able to move your company forward, to develop new skillsets for yourself, and to grow and move forward? If your agenda is so task-heavy that you have no growth time, you will never be success that you could be.
This blog is for you and we hope you will enjoy the content.
Please let us know if there are any specific topics you would like us to address in the future.
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