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The Successful Delegator: Develop, Hire, or Outsource?

blog blogpost business growth business strategy leadership ownership Jul 03, 2024

Owner-operators seem to have a chronic case of “my eyes were bigger than my stomach.” Maybe not with food, but certainly with good ideas. It’s the norm, but it’s also a problem.

I recently asked a business owner, “What does your strategic planning look like?”

He described a quarterly meeting with leadership, where they spend the first hour trying to remember what they talked about last quarter. Why do so many ideas never become more than ideas?

In his case (and many others), the breakdown happens when delegation isn’t the priority.

We’re Making Too Many Excuses

In a perfect world, delegation would be easy. None of us want more tasks on our plate, especially when they feel like clutter. Why don’t we delegate?

  • We don’t think someone else will do it as well as we do.
  • Handoffs can be time-consuming and cumbersome.
  • Our team is already overloaded.
  • We need more margin to add more support.

It’s death by a thousand paper cuts. Each of these is a reason, but they’re also excuses. The problem? Not delegating is a more convenient path to long-term failure.

The alternative of delegating is no easy path, but it’s the only option to lead to long-term revenue growth for your business.

A Thoughtful Approach to Delegating

Want progress toward your goals? Don’t be the bottleneck. Make delegation a priority. And just as importantly, delegate thoughtfully. 

The best way to get frustrated is to delegate without a strategic thought process. Delegation usually means an initial drop in efficiency, as almost all handoffs do. Here’s the thought process I recommend for delegating successfully.

Below are the three main options when considering delegation. A thoughtful, sober assessment of each path is worth the time. Aim, then fire.

1. Develop Internally

Internal staff have a leg up in many ways. They may be more familiar with your process and culture. They usually have gaps, and you need a plan to fill them. Here are a few questions to ask when considering internal delegation.

  1. Who on my team has the best skill set for this role?
  2. What would we need to delegate off of their plate for them to focus on this?
  3. How much time/resources would be needed to help develop their skill set?

2. Hire New Talent

Sometimes, the answers to those questions don’t leave you an obvious path forward. Sometimes, the skill set you need isn’t on your team yet. It might take too much time and too many resources to develop someone internally. 

Hiring isn’t always a simple process, but it may be a necessary shortcut.

Here are a few of the questions I ask when coaching an owner through this thought process:

  1. Do we have the budget + pitch to hire a veteran talent who can lead immediately?
  2. Do we need to aim younger/cheaper with a plan to develop?
  3. Which is more important: a raw skill set or experience in the specific role?
  4. How long might it take to recruit this kind of person? And do we have a recruiting budget?

3. Outsource Efficiently

Though it’s third on my list, outsourcing is rarely third in my approach. Certain parts of your business may lend themselves to an outsourced partner. These are usually facets like marketing, HR, supply chain, or other elements that require a highly specialized contribution.

When comparing outsourcing versus hiring/developing, here are a few critical questions:

  1. Do we have a clear definition of success to share with outsourced partners?
  2. Who will be in charge of researching & comparing vendors?
  3. Who will be in charge of holding vendors accountable?
  4. What resources (especially people) will we need to leverage internally to support the vendor?

A Successful Vision of Delegating

So, delegating is not easy, but no entrepreneur signs up for a sweat-free life. The goal of delegating is to build a system that occasionally needs repair and can reduce reliance on YOU as an operator.

This is especially true for businesses that want to break through 7 figures and into eight finally. The next level of growth requires you to hold a fundamentally different role than what got you here. 

We’ve helped dozens of businesses move from 7 to 8 figures, which is why we can streamline your progress towards a strong revenue system that enables your growth at the next level.

The result? Every part of your business works in sync toward meaningful revenue growth. Strategy. Planning. Accountability. It’s time to build the business you’ve always known you were capable of.

To see how we do it, see our process here.