Can you unplug completely and do it with confidence? Will your business run without you? There’s only one way to find out.
When the weather gets nice, I like to go for a run in Central Park in the middle of my work day. I also like to take my kids on little (and sometimes big) trips. And I want my business to keep thriving. How do I make it happen? I am a self-made Delegation Ninja.
It’s been a long winter if you are in a place with seasons, and I bet you’re probably starting to think about that first long warm weather vacation. “Memorial Day weekend,” you tell yourself, that’s when you’ll get time off. Or maybe a beach getaway July 4th weekend. Or maybe you’ll take a random week or two off in the middle of August.
And then you remember that you have a business to run. How can you take time off when there is so much to do and you’re the only one who can do it?
Easily! You can become a master of efficiency and a Delegation Ninja, too. Instead of pushing vacation to the back of your mind, indulge your wanderlust. Book that trip. You can take a vacation without worrying about your business.
I repeat: You CAN take a vacation without worrying about your business
I am never happier with the life I have created than when I’m on vacation and my business is functioning without me. For me, that’s when entrepreneurship feels like it’s worth the grueling work. The time my team and I put into building and refining systems, cross-training, and spreadsheets gives me confidence that I can unplug, AND I won’t be coming back to chaos.
Vacations are incredibly important. How are you going to give it your best every day if you’re exhausted and burned out? Your body and mind need that time to refresh. That’s when you have the brainpower to think of new ideas and get outside of your box. It sounds counter-intuitive, but taking vacations makes us more productive and efficient.
But to be able to go on vacation, and I mean a real one, where you don’t even check email, with that level of confidence takes work upfront. You have to start delegating. And if you’re already delegating, you likely have to delegate even more.
The golden question that made me more efficient
One thing I tell the women I coach is that you have to get rigorous about asking yourself one question: “Is what I’m doing right now something I can delegate?”
As entrepreneurs, we feel like we have to do everything ourselves instead of learning how to manage and delegate. I know because I’ve been there. I had to be the salesperson, the bookkeeper, the marketing team, and the janitor all in one to get my business off the ground.
But becoming a master multitasker isn’t what’s going to get entrepreneurs to the million-dollar revenue mark (or on vacation). Instead, it’s all about leading a team and reserving your time for the tasks that only you can do.
Social media, for example, is something you can train someone to handle for you. During my day to day, I’m not looking for articles to tweet because I have to spend my time on what matters most. On average, business owners can easily have over 3 hours sucked away by social media…DAILY. I’ve been delegating it out for so long that I don’t even know what the norms are anymore. And that’s a good thing.
It bugs me that 72 percent of men-run businesses survive while only 66 percent of women-run businesses do. Could that statistic change if we stopped trying to do it all?
Start making a habit of asking yourself that question and let it change the way you think about what you’re actually doing every day. If you haven’t tried it already, here’s my worksheet for delegating your way to the top. It allows you to track the time you spend on daily activities and, more importantly, determine whether those are the activities you need to be doing or can delegate.
How doing less helps your business do more
Delegating has another side benefit. It gives your team members the opportunity to take on more leadership roles. When I started fundraising, having a high functioning team was one of my biggest selling points.
In working with so many female founders, and as recovering perfectionist who did not love delegating from the get go, I’ve realized that women really are more resistant to delegating.
I’ll never forget when Robin Young, CEO of Behaving Wealthy, joined my Masterclass last year and participated in the two-week “VA challenge” where I asked each woman to hire a Virtual Assistant for two weeks. Even if she had no idea what she would hand off and was convinced there was nothing she could!
Robin was especially resistant to getting a VA, but by the end of the two weeks, she had a total epiphany.
She handed over things she didn’t think she could hand over, felt an incredible feeling of freedom and lightness, and took her first vacation in three years. At the Million Dollar Women Summit (a yearly event that brings together high-growth women entrepreneurs with successful female founders and investors), Robin shared that she never understood how valuable her time was until she got a VA and that outsourcing is shockingly easy. Plus, it gave her more time to focus on the top 5 percent of work that impacted her business most.
Delegating means giving other people that you trust room to get things done without breathing down their neck. Then you can double check their work. The truth about delegating is that when the project doesn’t come back the way you wanted, it’s up to you to find a better way to explain it. As the CEO, you take full responsibility. If you hired the right people, they will get it right the next time. Once you’re comfortable that they understand it, you can hand it off permanently.
If you’re thinking about hiring a VA (which you should try for at least two weeks if you haven’t already) you can read more about getting started on my blog here.
What could you accomplish with an extra 15 hours in your week?
In chapter seven of my book (which you can get for free if you subscribe to my blog!), I broke down exactly how much time delegating has saved me by week, month, and quarter.
Not only did I delegate business-related tasks, but I also outsourced personal tasks, like having my apartment cleaned twice a month. Becoming a Delegation Ninja in my business and personal life saved me over 15 hours a week that I can use to spend more time with friends and family or, if I choose, to fundraise or work ON my business instead of in it.
Knowing what you want to do with the extra time matters, otherwise, you just end up getting sucked into doing more work. Be intentional about how you want to spend that time and let it motivate you to get more off your plate.
Once I got started on my journey to becoming a Delegation Ninja, I came to love finding new ways to do things in less time, more effectively, and with less fretting about how it will turn out.
You’ll never know if your systems are working unless you take a vacation!
Here is my challenge for you. Plan a vacation this summer with the intention of being completely off the grid. In that time, ramp up your delegation strategy and refine your systems. The vacation can be a little “test” to see if they actually work.
Why is that so important? Well, what would happen to your business if you hypothetically found yourself facing a personal crisis tomorrow? Would it function without you? That’s not the time to figure out whether your systems work well.
Start distributing responsibility across several people; that way, there’s not one person that holds all of it, just in case something happens to them.
Instead of trying to manage the failures, we can manage our way to more time, less stress, and a wider runway to accomplish our goals. In a culture that glorifies being busy, let’s help each other work smarter, not harder. See you on the beach!