One of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do in my career is give up control.
When you own your own business—and especially when you’ve started that business as a solo act—it’s very difficult to let go and give the reigns to someone else. Yet, it’s imperative that you do so because if you don’t, you’ll always be the one doing the work. And quite frankly, your time is worth more than that.
Isn’t that easier said than done.
Here’s how the thought pattern goes for me:
- “I hate doing this thing.” or “I don’t have time to do this thing.”
- “I should have someone else do this thing. My time is more valuable.”
- “Yes, but can you afford to pay someone else to do this? Maybe you should keep doing it yourself for now.”
- “But if I keep doing it myself, I’ll never get rid of it, and I need to focus on more important things!”
- “Yeah, but will you really do something better with the time, or will you piss it away on Feedly? “
- “Shut up.”
This inevitably leaves me feeling frustrated and still not sure whether or not I should delegate the task.
So, how do we know when to keep doing something for ourselves, and when to delegate it to someone else?
To be completely honest, I have no idea.
I did read a great article on Inc.com the other day that highlighted using the 70 percent rule. If you can delegate a task to someone who can do it 70 percent as good as you, do it. That doesn’t really help us with the problem of WHEN we should start using this rule in our business, but it at least gives us a baseline for when we are ready.
So, the question still remains, “at what point in a budding company’s growth does this become a necessity?” Normally, I’d say, when you can no longer do it for yourself. Yes, Sherlock, thank you for that. But what about when you run out of time but are also tight on money?
The only answer I’ve found so far that works is little by little.
Let me illustrate what I mean.
I hired my first full-time employee in December of 2013. I only paid him $12/hour and he worked a full 40 hours a week. The fit wasn’t right (probably a lesson in you get what you pay for) and we parted ways in March. I’m actually kind of glad because bringing someone on full-time right from the start was a stupid idea. I couldn’t keep him busy enough and it stressed me out always trying to make payroll. I even bounced a payroll withdrawal once. Oops.
When I hired his replacement, Mikey, I did things smarter. I brought him on for only 8-9 hours a week, though at a much higher rate. Mikey is an employee, but works more like a freelancer. I’m not super strict on office times and all that other crap and he’s awesome.
He pays for himself in the extra productivity time he’s given me. There was no way I could move the company forward the way I have without having him to delegate to.
I’ve slowly upped his hours as I’ve needed him. He has other freelance gigs that keep him going, so it’s working well for us.
I try really hard to make sure our monthly recurring income covers the business and then any one-time income is used as a buffer or to grow the business. As of today, we are $1.01 in the hole per month, recurring income only. As that number increases, I’m able to give Mikey and my other freelance contractors more hours.
OK, I kind of lost my train of thought a little, so let me eloquently bring this all back around. Letting go of the reigns and delegating.
What I’m trying to say is there’s no right or wrong way to build or grow your business. You don’t need to do it all at once, and you certainly shouldn’t do it to the detriment of the business itself.
But, you cannot do it all alone. At some point, you’ll need to have someone who can take the smaller, more day-to-day items so you can focus on your long-term strategy. If you don’t, there’ll be no long-term, and no need for a leader or a Mikey.
So, do yourself a favor, hire smart and hire small. If you can’t afford a full-time employee, don’t get one. Hire small with a part-time employee or a freelance contractor. And if you hire smart, chances are the freelancer will be able to do the job better than you anyway.