Delegation & Outsourcing For Small Businesses

How often do we spend our Sunday afternoons working through our book-keeping when we should be out relaxing with our family and friends?

For most new and small businesses we end up working long hours and try tackling everything from the accounts to maintaining a website – with little opportunity to recharge our batteries before Monday morning and the start of a new week.

Prioritising our workload can help; working smarter not harder – but what about getting someone else to do the work – outsourcing?

We often try and cut corners and save costs by doing it ourselves – but are the savings real?

Consider the following example: -

Barry is a self employed plumber and typically charges £60 an hour. He regularly spends 3 - 4 hours every Monday doing his books and bills for the previous week. Had he been working for those three hours he would have made £180.

By outsourcing the bookkeeping to a local book keeper he will remove the admin nightmare and free up time to spend on his clients. If the bookkeeper charges £8 per hour and takes half a day a week then 4 x £8 is a small price to pay.

Finding a good local bookkeeper can be difficult – speak to other small businesses locally or someone within your network of contacts.

And there are other advantages of having a bookkeeper:
  • What impression does it create when your “Accounts department” contacts a client to chase up an overdue bill – size matters?
  • They will talk the same language as your Accountant and deal with organising the year end accounts.
Delegation is not abdication though. You need to give the other person the authority to act on your behalf for the specified task or action. You retain accountability.

So what do I get out of delegation?
  • A reduction in your workload, though less involvement in detail
  • More freedom to concentrate on major planning, creative, or sales activities
  • Development of staff – and the full use of their skills
  • Decisions at the sharp end – made by those closer to the action and therefore more timely.
  • Trained understudies at all levels – a more effective team and, as a result, maybe that long weekend away becomes a reality as the business carries on without you.
So how should I delegate?

Start with the end in mind. You would like your customers to continue to receive an excellent service and pay the bills on time. So start by working out what you do at present.
  • Ask yourself why you are doing it?
  • Should I keep doing it, and if so, why?
  • If I didn’t do it, who could I get to do the job?
  • Do they need training and coaching?
So far so good, but what things shouldn’t be delegated?
  • Keep the keys to the safe secure – confidential, security, and policy matters
  • Discipline of colleagues
Making it happen

Having identified what you can let go, it's now time to set out in detail how you expect the work to be carried out – in terms of quality, timescales, costs, etc.

Give the person you are delegating to the authority to get on with the tasks and also the resources. If training is required then this needs to be addressed too.
  • Make sure that they know their limits of authority – try and avoid grey areas.
  • Communicate with others – and emphasise your trust
  • Carry out spot checks – to make sure that things are as they should be.
  • Give constructive feedback and mentoring where necessary.
And don’t forget to update your disaster recovery plan. With others in the team able to cover more of your work your business would still be able to function were you off following a mishap skiing…

Click here to sign up for our business advice newsletter.

Copyright © 2004-2007 Divadani Limited. Terms and conditions of use.