Want to grow your startup? Learn to delegate

 “If you really want to grow as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to learn to delegate”

Richard Branson, serial entrepreneur and founder of Virgin


When you run a business the buck always stops with you!

However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the challenges associated with starting a business are vastly different to those needed to scale one. Launching a business requires leaders to do the do, talk the talk and walk the walk. It’s your baby, and in the beginning, the devil will be in the detail. You can’t take your eyes off anything for a second. But scaling a business presents a different set of challenges. It requires leaders to put a well-structured team together, and strong growth strategy in place.

As your company changes, your roles and responsibilities will too. It’s important to recognise this and accept the need to share the load, because like it or not, delegation is intrinsically linked to startup success.

Research from a data-driven news site, Gallup shows founders that are able to delegate well “generate better business growth and venture success than leaders who get lost in the day-to-day minutiae of managing a business.”

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Transitioning from doing to delegating

Taking the first step to delegation is scary. It is like trusting someone else to help you look after your baby.

But remember this – it will help you determine which work falls in and out of your scope and keep your standards of delegation high.

Adopt a strength-based approach

Don’t get caught out by delegating the work to whoever is available. Play to your team’s strengths and delegate work to the person that is going to do the best job.

For example, a task that requires a deep dive into data would be best given to someone who is analytical, whereas a new business pitch may be best suited to someone with excellent communication skills.

But when distributing work, be careful to ensure it’s done as evenly as possible, or top performers may become overwhelmed and feel as though they are being taken advantage of.

An effective way to achieve this is to ensure everyone in your team has a mixture of quick and easy tasks and ones which are more, challenging and time-sensitive.

Set expectations and emphasise accountability

Prepare your team for success, not a failure. You wouldn’t hit a ball on the golf course without teeing it up, so avoid delegating work to your team without handing it over properly.

Make sure you sit down with your team to run through each task at hand. Set clear goals, objectives, and expectations. This is your opportunity to emphasize that they are accountable for the work being done on time, to a good standard.

Make them want to work for you, not against you.

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Don’t be a micromanager

Letting go is tough but you won’t get the best out of your team or yourself if you’re watching their every move. Something that is even more tricky in the world of startups.

As Don Zillioux says in his Linkedin post, “Not every issue demands a leader’s attention”.

So hold the faith that your team will, and wants to, deliver awesome work. If not, it’s a bigger problem than the individual task itself and something that needs to be addressed head-on sooner rather than later.

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Steer your ship

Now your delegation strategy is in place, your role is to check-in to ensure everyone is on board and motivated.

This doesn’t have to be in person all the time. Instant messaging services such as Slack, Skype and Google Hangout allow teams to communicate easily from anywhere. There are also great project management tools out there, such as Trello and Harvest, that allow teams to track their progress and iron out any hiccups online as they go along.

But don’t forget to book-in regular one-to-ones. Facetime is invaluable. It allows two-way feedback and you get to see firsthand that you’ve got a healthy, happy workforce.

That’s it. You’re now taking steps towards mastering the art of delegation. Time to work smarter – together.


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