Delegate or Control? : Small Business Dilemma

21-September-2012
21-September-2012 10:49
in Managed Outsourcing
by Colin Smith

I've never met a successful small business owner that doesn't work hard.  Without question hard work is a virtue and essential for success but this virtue can turn into a vice if abused  Some small business owners work harder than others and some work too hard, to the detriment of everything else in their lives and eventually to the detriment of their business. They are addicted to control and simply have to to be involved in every aspect of their business from being the bookkeeper, marketer, human resources manager, purchasing officer, customer liaison officer to being the cleaner.  That's in addition to their own duties.  The smaller the business the harder it is for the owner to delegate any functions because they dislike spending any money. This is understandable but at some point in every business owners journey, they will face the dilemma of delegation versus control.  Perhaps that will come at the point of emotional and physical exhaustion, as it does for some entrepreneurs.  Hopefully, it will be addressed sooner.  There is no "right" or "wrong" answer to this question, just good and bad consequences of both delegation and control.   We'll take a look at each side of the coin and help you work out in your own mind whether a strategy of delegation or control is right for you and your business.

Attractions of Autocratic Control In A Small Business

Small business owners usually know that the task they’re delegating will likely NOT be done as well as they could do it themselves. This is almost inevitable if delegating to somebody else within their organisation.  What they fear is an immediate dip in productivity by delegating that task.  For a lean small business without a huge buffer zone in their profits, this can be dangerous to the business owners livelihood or even to the continuing existence of the business.  When the competitive environment is demanding, the small business owner may feel too much pressure to take time for proper delegating.  A long view is needed to invest in employees by delegating. 

Small business owners are often cast as heroes.  Within their business they are masters of all they survey and everyone within the organisation is dependent upon them.  Whilst some small business owners might be glad to rid themselves of this burden, others fear being made irrelevant by delegating tasks central to the performance of the business. People tend to derive some of their personal identity from their job tasks especially when they become proficient at them. Intentionally giving away those tasks, especially to someone who may eventually be better at it than them, can be intimidating. Small Business owners need to courageously decide to do what is best and give up some of their power for the sake of the greater good.  I have worked with small business owners for whom this was a real challenge and who longed for their old tasks again, even long after they had been successfully delegated to others.

Benefits Of Delegation 

If you ever aspire to retire or take a step back from your business, at some point you will need to establish effective systems of work and delegate the work to somebody else. Within your own organisation, delegation is more about growing people than it is reducing your own work load.  It communicates that you trust someone enough to give them the responsibility for key results.  It provides a context for coaching, accountability, and training.  If you struggle or refuse to do this, not only will you remained chained to your business indefinitely but you will also dramatically reduce the value of your busines should you wish to sell it.  Potential buyers for your business are looking for a turnkey solution, not a job for them to work in for 60 -70 jours a week for a little over minimum wage on an hourly rate.  You might be prepared to do that as you love your business but somebody on the outside looking in will not do that.  Businesses that can operate as an investment, entirely independently from the business owner will be attractive to the widest possible range of potential buyers and will therefore command a higher price.  

Ultimately, our small business will grow until it reaches a size where we can no longer do everything.  At that point, we are faced with a choice of either relinquishing control or constraining the growth of the business.  Without question, you can achieve 10 to 20 times more through delegation than you could by doing all  the work by ourselves, and the addiction to control may cost us dearly.

Relinquishing control of your business can be one of the hardest things that a small business owner will ever do.  It is something that will eventually restrict the growth of your business, so unless you want to stay small to stay in control, you will likely have to learn to effectively delegate.  Despite the entrepreneur's tendency to get everything done yesterday, don't rush into delegating. Even if you have team members ready to shoulder the load, suddenly shifting your responsibilities won't stick. It must be done over a period of time, so both you and the employees can grow into your new roles.  We need to delegate, not dump, the key tasks and responsibilities that we want to relinquish.

It may well be that it is difficult to delegate certain jobs as the skills to do them are simply not found in your business.  That's where outsourcing rather than delegation becomes an attractive alternative to remaining a martyr to your business.  Perhaps outsourcing certain tasks might be an acceptable middle ground for those small business owners that are struggling to relinquish control but have ambitions to grow.  Here at Continuous Business Planning, we are dedicated to helping you find the way forward that works for you and for your company.  That may be delegation, it may be outsourcing or it may be business process reengineering to enable you to complete the tasks that you don't want to delegate more efficiently.  Let us help you solve the dilemma of delegtion or control by calling us today

 

Continuous Business Planning Limited | 19 Halifax Road, Littleborough, Lancashire, OL15 0HL | Company No. 8123105 | Web Design by The Smarter Web Company | Terms | Privacy Policy | XML Sitemap