Delegation in Business

Learning How to Delegate Is Important for Business Owners

Smiling Chinese small business woman
Ah! Delegation!. LWA / Getty Images

Definition:

When you delegate, you empower someone else to act for you. The act of delegation, then, involves conferring (some of) your functions or powers on another so he or she can act on your behalf.

You can see from the definition why delegation is so problematical for so many small business people; delegating involves giving some control away. Couple that with the fact that many business people believe that no one else is going to do it (whatever it is) as well as they do it, and you have a group that's very resistant to delegation.

Delegation is a critical skill for small business success, however. It is not uncommon for owners of startup businesses to try to do it all themselves, but no one can be good at everything, and running a small business involves so many different tasks and skills that as the business grows some sort of division of labor becomes necessary for the business to prosper. To learn more about what to delegate and improve your delegation skills, see Let Go & Delegate! and How to Delegate.

What Is the Difference Between Delegating and Outsourcing?

Other ways you could divide the labor include getting a partner, hiring employees, and outsourcing. What’s the difference between delegation and outsourcing? Semantics, mainly. Outsourcing involves purchasing goods or subcontracting services from an outside company. The word isn’t freighted with the idea of giving up control. In practice, delegation and outsourcing are often indistinguishable.

What Are Some Typical Tasks a Business Owner Can Delegate?

  • Shipping and receiving - if your business routinely takes and ships product orders and/or receives goods you should delegate the associated tasks such as packing/unpacking, labeling, etc. If you are running a family business some of these tasks might be ideally suited to children of an appropriate age.
  • Tech support - even if you are knowledgeable about tech, should you really be spending time fixing a Windows crash on an employee's computer, refilling printer cartridges, or dealing with a Wi-Fi issue in your office? Most businesses have a need for IT support services, if only on an irregular basis, so having a reliable tech support service available when needed is important. A good tech service company can also provide advice on new technologies that can help your business grow and/or save you time and money.
  • Travel arrangements - if your activities as a business owner require a lot of travel you may want to delegate the tasks of flight and hotel reservations to a travel agent. Yes, there are many online booking sites where you can make your own reservations but the bewildering number of options can make booking a complex trip hugely time consuming. Why not have an expert do the research for you?

 

Examples: Hiring an accountant or bookkeeper is one of the most common examples of delegation practiced by small businesses.

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