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Too many entrepreneurs are overworked, overwhelmed, lonely, and struggle with delegation. Trusty Oak is on a mission to combat small business burnout and get companies growing by connecting driven entrepreneurs with the best freelance virtual assistants in the U.S. Amber Gray is the founder and CEO of Trusty Oak, an award-winning Austin-based virtual assistant company providing administrative and marketing services to busy entrepreneurs, authors, and creative teams. 

In my line of work, I’m fortunate enough to talk with hundreds of entrepreneurs every year. These are my people: we speak the same language and have shared pain points and experiences as entrepreneurs. 

These years of conversations have reinforced, over and over again, one of my central beliefs: the most crucial area of self-improvement any entrepreneur can pursue is delegation. If you want to grow your business, you have to grow your team, and effective delegation can be the difference between sustainable growth and frustrating burnout. I’m passionate about beating the epidemic of small business burnout by pairing entrepreneurs with virtual assistants so they can harness the power of delegation for growth. 

That’s why I regularly speak to entrepreneurs and small business owners about delegation. Like any skill, delegation doesn’t come easy on the first try (or 10). It’s a habit you have to develop over time, and it’s something you have to be intentional about. But make no mistake: delegation should be on the list if you’re setting goals for your business right now. Developing your delegation skills could be the most impactful thing you’ll do to grow your business this year. 

Why Delegation?

If you’re an entrepreneur in growth mode, you already know you’ll need to expand your team as your company grows. You know you can’t do everything. And, you probably know you’re still doing too much of the day-to-day operations of your business. 

But good people are hard to find. And handing things off is complex and time-consuming. And nobody gets your company the way you do. Maybe you’ve been burned before trying to delegate–it went all wrong. And sometimes, it feels faster just to keep doing things yourself. 

While these things probably feel very accurate right now, they’re also the limiting beliefs that result from not knowing how to delegate effectively. They’re the beliefs that are keeping you harried, stuck, and overwhelmed. If you continue being the bottleneck in your business, you limit your growth by your own time, energy, and abilities. And who wants to limit their entrepreneurial growth? 

Effective delegation is a skill you have to develop. And, once you’ve honed this skill, it will give you the gift of freedom and scalability. 

How to Get Started With Delegation

If delegation is a skill, and practice makes perfect, then let’s talk about how to practice delegation effectively. When our team works with clients who are delegating to a virtual assistant for the first time, we often identify and coach on the same misconceptions and assumptions over and over again. Many clients haven’t given much thought to delegating and assume they’ll be able to jump right in without any issue. The reality is delegation takes effort, planning, and learning. Here’s how I recommend getting started with delegation for effective scalability.

Identify What to Delegate 

First, you need a plan. You need to know what to delegate before you can hand it off. We work with our clients in their onboarding to identify the right tasks to offload to a virtual assistant, and you can do some of the same work on your own. 

As you go through your workday, start identifying repeatable tasks you do regularly. You can even try tracking your time for a week to see how your days disappear and identify tasks to delegate. You can also use a delegation matrix to hone in on what should stay on your plate and what you should hand off. 

This crucial step is one you can’t skip. It’s easy to think you know right away what to delegate. But, paying close attention to how you spend your time could surface higher-priority tasks to delegate. You want to get the most out of expanding your team and delegating. So, you don’t want to be delegating inbox management when social media is the thing taking up all of your energy and time right now, for instance.

Don’t Rush the Hiring Process

Once you’ve decided what to delegate, you may start getting the itchy feeling of needing it off your plate yesterday. But this next part is the one you can’t rush: the interview and hiring process. 

Take time crafting a job description that lines up with what you need and accurately reflects the working environment of your team. Whether you’re hiring a virtual assistant or an employee, you want to think through your hiring process beforehand and develop it into something that thoroughly vets candidates. 

At Trusty Oak, we hire for values alignment first, and then skillset. Here are a few tips for crafting your hiring process: 

  • Request a video response from applicants before screening them. If you request a short video from the applicant explaining why they’d like to work with you, you’ll learn volumes about the person before you even start the screening and interviewing process. You’ll learn if they’ll read through and follow your directions, they are tech-savvy, and/or they’re confident in their communication. 
  • Develop interview questions using your core values. You want to see whether a candidate resonates with and understands your core values before moving them further along in the process. 
  • Interview more than once. Conduct a short screening interview first to ensure the individual aligns with the role you’re offering and could be a long-term fit with your company. Then conduct a longer interview where you dig into their core values alignment and their job history. Again, don’t rush the process! 

Start Small and Build Trust 

When you’ve finally identified what to delegate and who to delegate it to, you should start the delegation process with the goal to build trust. Start small with low-stakes tasks and work your way up, focusing on developing rapport with your new assistant. 

You’ll need patience for the onboarding process with a new assistant. We believe that when trust is high, speed goes up and costs go down. When trust is low, it’s very difficult–sometimes even impossible–to get work done effectively. 

Build trust through: 

  • Giving honest and authentic feedback, kindly and respectfully 
  • Having patience and working ahead of schedule to avoid a sense of urgency 
  • Saying thank you and being appreciative when a job is done well
  • Sharing your vision and communicating regularly with your assistant 

While delegation isn’t the easiest skill to master, it’s one that will have a direct impact on your ability to grow your business. Commit to developing your delegation skills in 2022. 

Join Susan Fennema of Beyond the Chaos and Amber Gray of Trusty Oak on Wednesday, January 19, at 11:30 AM Central as they present on their key areas of expertise – operational efficiency and delegation – and take audience questions throughout the panel. Submit questions ahead of time or come with questions for the live event. Sign up today

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