There is one common refrain we hear on calls with prospective clients: “I know I need help, but I don’t know where to start.”
When the ship is taking on water, you don’t think too deeply about developing a strategy to fix the hull. Instead, you grab a bucket and start bailing.
The same is true when you’re overwhelmed by the day-to-day of your business. You have so much on your to-do list that you’re just frantically trying to cross things off—there’s no space to create a long-term strategy to avoid the daily panic in the first place.
This is the part where we tell you to put down that bucket and take a deep breath. To understand what you can hand off to someone else, you first need to know where all of your time is going. That’s why we ask every new client to conduct a time audit.
We know, we know, any phrase that has the word “audit” in it sounds about as fun as a root canal. But if you don’t truly know where you are, you can’t create a path to move forward. In this case, no pain means no gain. You’d be surprised by how many people think they know what they’re doing each day but then are shocked when they see the results of their own time audit.
These audits bring clarity around what you should continue doing and which tasks are not a good use of your time. Anything falling into the latter category is what you will delegate to someone else to prevent burnout and mismanaged cash flow.
Business owners and entrepreneurs should be solely focused on those tasks they’re uniquely qualified to do. Your time is valuable (both literally and figuratively), so tasks that aren’t directly contributing to your bottom line should be handed off.
Sound good? Great! Here’s how to move forward with delegating those low-value tasks.
1. Create the Documentation You Need
Another part of our onboarding process here at Don’t Panic is encouraging our new clients to create standard operating procedures (SOPs). We like to say that anything within your organization that needs to be done the same way more than twice warrants an SOP.
We rely on SOPs within our organization for a number of reasons. First, it means you only have to explain a task once. You create the SOP and then anyone can walk in, read the document and/or watch the video, and tick that task off the list.
Second, it helps you retain institutional knowledge. If your VA ever leaves, you still have all the documentation you need for someone else to come in and pick up where they left off. Finally, it eliminates any back-and-forth in the delegation process. If the SOP is well-crafted, your new VA will have all the information they need right there.
To create a killer SOP, do the task yourself and record yourself throughout the entire process. And we mean really do the task, don’t just try to recall yourself doing it another time. Sometimes when you’re used to doing something, you forget some of the finer details you typically undertake on autopilot. Doing repeatable tasks yourself also helps you find any gaps in the current process and address them before delegating.
We love using Loom to record our screen as we walk through the task. It allows you to efficiently record the steps of the task and then hand it off immediately to someone else—no further work required!
2. Trust and Release
Entrepreneurs can have trouble letting go. Your business is like your child. You’ve put immeasurable time and heart into building it, and you don’t want to just hand things off to some stranger.
Learning to trust others is a process, so it’s okay not to delegate everything all at once. Try taking that first step and pass along one or two tasks. Set aside some time to review the tasks and provide feedback, but do not micromanage. Remember, virtual assistants are professionals, too, and often they’ll find their own way of doing things that might be even faster, more streamlined, and cheaper than what you devised.
The key is to look for a VA who is inquisitive and always learning. Curiosity is one of our core values for a reason!
When you find a VA who is flexible, willing to try new tools and processes, and great at anticipating hiccups, it’s easy to trust them. As they continue to shine in their role, you’ll feel more and more comfortable handing off bigger and more important tasks.
3. Keep Everyone on the Same Page
An essential part of delegation is ensuring you and your VA are always on the same page. SOPs are a great first step, but we find project management systems keep you in sync throughout the week.
Don’t Panic uses and loves ClickUp, but there are tons of tools out there to choose from. What’s great about a project management app is that it allows your entire team a bird’s eye view of company priorities and a comprehensive picture of everyone’s projects and tasks.
Pick a project management tool that you and your team love, and get everyone into the habit of using it. That way, if you’re wondering whether a delegated task has been handled yet, you can simply pop into the tool and check on its status.
Knowing you have this visibility into what your team is up to is often a balm for the nervous entrepreneur’s soul.
4. Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself
If you find that, even with all this planning and forethought, you’re still biting your nails to little stubs worried about the status of tasks you’ve delegated, you need to do a self-check-in.
Remember: You hired someone so you could focus on tasks you love and are uniquely qualified to do. Focus on the positives. Make a list of new clients you’ve won, the valuable time you’ve gotten back with your family, and other benefits that have come from hiring help.
If that list doesn’t make you feel better, it might be time to explore the root cause of your distrust. Is this coming from within, or is there something about the person you’re working with that is making you uneasy? Be honest, but trust your gut.
If it’s coming from within, consider talking with a coach or therapist about how to let go of that need for control. If it’s something about the team member, evaluate whether it’s a hurdle you can overcome or if it’s time to consider a change in your relationship.
The biggest piece of advice we can give to overworked entrepreneurs is to avoid confusing tasks only you can do with tasks you don’t trust others to do. Trust is hard, but delegation doesn’t need to be a leap of faith into the dark. When you systematically evaluate where your time goes and identify tasks you can hand off, you know you’re making sound decisions in the way you seek help. And once you hand those tasks off, we feel pretty confident you’ll see the value of delegation quickly.
If you’re ready to start the process but need a helping hand, check out our Panic-Proof Blueprint. This program was designed to walk you through our proven process to bring you to a place of greater calm.
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