Delegation; the assignment of any authority to another person to carry out specific activities. One of the most important skills you can learn if you wish to elevate your career, your brand or your business. This blog is going to focus on delegation in a business and brand context however I recommend that anyone who is struggling to balance their life, their work, their goals takes a good look at what is keeping them busy and then asks themselves ‘what could I delegate’?
Delegation, outsourcing, management of resources are more about mindset than tools and processes. It’s about understanding that your time is better served elsewhere, in the place your good at, in the place you like. More and more people in the entrepreneurial space are becoming better at delegating and outsourcing thanks to the work of people such as Tim Ferris, Rob Moore and others. We are seeing people and businesses grow at rapid rates without hiring full time staff and sites such as Fiverr and Upwork become busier everyday. Thanks to these amazing tools and these amazing people teaching us how to use them we are able to plug our gaps, save ourselves time and achieve results in hours, not weeks. Once we’ve got our mindset around this new way of working, the sky becomes the limit.
Learning how to outsource first starts with learning how to delegate i.e.. identify work that doesn’t require you to complete it and asking someone else to do it. For the rest of this blog I’d like you to act as though you already understand how to delegate however you don’t know how to do it to grow your business without employees and without spending a ton of cash. This is where this blog will help you.
I’d like to start with the first principle of outsourcing because once you’ve got your head around this, the rest is easy. Let’s say I needed to create an eBook for my audience. There are a few steps I’d need to take, research, write, edit, design, create a graphic, turn into a pdf, upload, share. Looking at that list, I’d like you to identify the things I personally would need to do and the things I wouldn’t. Have it? Good, let’s move on.
If you identified that the only key activities I’d need to do we’re research and write, you’d be correct, the rest can be done by someone else. Now you may say: but I can do it, so I should do it because it saves me money. This is wrong way way to look at this and this is why. If my time is valued at £200 per hour and those additional activities would take 3 hours, that book has now cost me £600. If, however, I find someone to turn a word document into an eBook at £10 an hour for 3 hours, that is £30.
When you look at it like this, it’s a no brainer. Once you start practicing this, you become addicted, finding more and more things you don’t need to do. This frees up your time for other, more important work, or even, for rest.
If you aren’t the absolute best person to do something OR you aren’t extremely motivated to learn it then don’t do it, don’t bother, you’ll be crap. Stop asking what do I need to do and start asking who.
This is a new mindset which means it isn’t going to happen over night. You’re likely going to struggle at the beginning, spending money you thnk you don’t need to spend and releasing control. It will also take time to gain the awareness of “Oh! That’s something I could delegate”. For the first few weeks, it might be a bit unpleasant, it’s going to take more of your time while you work out what to delegate and while you upskill somebody on your team. However, like any new skill, it takes practice, and you can take it step by step. One thing you can be sure of however is that if you don’t learn this skill, you will forever stay a busy fool always doing but never completing.
After the first few weeks of getting set up and getting structured – making sure you’re doing it properly, that you’ve got yourself set up in an efficient and effective way and that you use all of the fantastic tools we have available to us – you’ll find that your capacity massively increases and all you’re actually paying out is $400 to $500 dollars a month to somebody who just makes your life more productive and more enjoyable. There will come a point where you can’t imagine a life WITHOUT your Virtual Assistant or Fiverr.
I got good at this skill pretty young because I realized that the better I got at project management, organization and delegation, the less work I had to do and the more fun I got to have. Fortunately my brothers have forgiven me for my part in the game ‘I’m the queen and you’re my servants’.
My obsession with outsourcing and delegation continued as I got into the workplace, I was more and more keen on finding the most efficient way to do something – whether that was creating a new system or a process, whether it was using a new tool or bringing in some prioritization – but more often than not it’s very much about outsourcing and simply about finding people that can do things better than you can.
I read Tim Ferris’ book ‘The Four Hour Work Week’ a couple of years ago and you know what? It was the best feeling ever. Hr made me feel that my thoughts on work and the working world were right, sentences like “don’t work for work’s sake”, and that people are “busy for the sake of being busy” resonated with me hugely. Tim talks about this badge of honour that we give super-busy people and how we always want to be super busy because we interpret that as meaning that we’re achieving – when, actually, your output is far more important than your busyness. Sometimes, those super-busy people aren’t actually achieving a lot because they’re not doing things in the right way.
Tim Ferris’ book is all about outsourcing and getting other people to do things for you, and I think he does actually take quite an extreme approach. I think, when I first went out on my own, that I took a really extreme approach, too. For me, that actually ended up with me spending more money than I probably should have done; I was trying to outsource things that I didn’t understand well enough myself, which meant that I wasn’t bringing in the right people for the right jobs and so those jobs weren’t being done properly. It’s a balance, so start slow and find the right way that works for you.
The main point here, don’t be a busy fool. Be that fool who gets TONS done without needing to brag about it.
Tim takes an extreme attitude with the ‘4 hour work week. For me it’s not so much that I work less, but what these new skills gave me is more capacity for work that focuses on levelling up, really taking my business and my brand to that next level. Now, I have the time to create something new, to write something new or to take on more clients. One day I’d love to be able to work a few hours a day, and spend the rest of my time reading, writing, at the spa and playing tennis, but for now, I’m happy that I’m able to complete twice and much in half the time, thanks to leveraging this skill and my time.
Society teaches us to have a worker-bee mentality; we are only valuable if we’re busy. The successful people don’t think this way and there’s no need for you to either.
For one week, write down absolutely everything you do each day. Even if you don’t put something on your to-do list, write down that you’ve done it. This list is not a to-do list, it’s a done list. Do that every single day for a week.
When you get to the end of that week, I want you to go through the list and, with a different colored pen, do a star next to all of the tasks that you think, actually, with a little bit of training and a little bit of time, somebody else could do that it. It’s not something that requires you – your skills, your personality – to do. Be honest, go BIG.
Now, I want you to look at all of stars. Put them into their own list, then categorize them into themes (that might be content, admin, finances – something like that) and then you’ve essentially got essentially your job description for your virtual assistant, so…
…step four is to find your virtual assistant! Go to all of the virtual assistant Facebook groups that exist out there and find somebody that actually matches your spec
I recommend then getting everyone to email you – don’t get them to private message you on Facebook, because that will really clog up your inbox – have them email you and then shortlist four to five and have a conversation with those four or five before you land on “The one” that really ticks your boxes.
Get going! Pick something you need doing, something simple and try it out. If you aren’t ready to go FULL Virtual Assistant try getting some tasks done on Fiverr, just scroll the unbelievable list of categories, I guarantee it will excite you to no end. As with everything, now you’ve got the awareness listen to what it’s telling you. If you gut says there’s a better way, there probably is. In my experience, usually about 30% of what you’re doing in your working week could be done by someone else, which would free up that 30% for you to concentrate on levelling-up tasks. Maybe those are tasks that you put off, but think you’ll do one day – personal branding, maybe, or content creation. Start looking at that job spec; start thinking about the kind of things that you could start to outsource.