Are you overwhelmed, exhausted, or permanently spending your time on things that drain you? If so, it’s time to let go. Delegation is the one skill that most healthy and happy business owners have mastered. They know that they succeed by putting their time and energy where it matters most while finding other people to do the other things.
However, handing things over to someone else is often very hard. Our brains are hardwired to resist letting go of the control and certainty of doing everything ourselves. But try asking yourself: are you really getting certainty and control? How often have you not got round to doing something, or done it badly, because you were determined to do it yourself?
One justification we often use for not delegating is that we can’t afford it. In reality, no matter how little your business is making, there are almost certainly things you can get help with.
Can you really change your life for £30? Not permanently, but all these low-cost or free ideas will get you started. If you think of delegation as a habit, the important thing is to get as much practice as you can. You’ll start to train your brain not only that other people can do things for you faster and better, but that your life and your business will get better when you focus on doing the things you love.
Try something new with Peopleperhour and Elance
No matter what you want doing, you’re likely to be able to find it on one of these sites, which are full of freelancers from Manchester to Manilla offering their time for hire. You can buy a fixed-rate package, agree a number of hours, or advertise a project and invite applications. With your £30 you easily could get a sales letter written, get a website bug fixed, have a powerpoint presentation designed or invest in VA admin services. A great way to try it out for the first time is to do something that would be nice to have if it went well, but isn’t critical to your business. Freelancers are user-rated, so look for several 5-star reviews, as well as a high ratio of reviews to jobs completed. peopleperhour.com, elance.com
Get creative for $5
If you’re having a bad day, head for Fiverr. This is another freelance site, but where everything costs $5 – currently around £3.30. There’s an extraordinary range of services available, including web banners and flyers, personalised illustrations, voice-overs, software fixes, blogging, translation and bespoke song writing. The only downside is the amount of time you might spend tempted by services you’ve never even considered.
Go overseas for low-cost virtual assistant work
There are a growing number of overseas virtual assistant agencies, particularly based in India, Pakistan and the Philippines. Work typically costs a third to a quarter of a similar service in the UK or US, so it can be very cost-effective for a small business. You can buy a fixed numbers of hours, agree a fixed project, or commit to having a regular assistant. To dip your toe into the remote water, take a look at two companies that offer a fixed number of tasks for a fixed fee: Efficise will do 30 business or personal tasks of 15-30 minutes each for just $45 (around £28), or My Tasker’s Lifestyle Plan covers 30 tasks of 15-20 minutes for $39. These are a good way of getting yourself into the mindset of handing over tasks, and learning how to brief someone well so you get the result you want.
Get an immediate turnaround with Fancy Hands
If you have lots of small jobs that need fast action, but you’d like a native English speaker, try Fancy Hands, a 24/7 US-based service who, for $45, will do up to 15 small tasks a month (or 5 for $25). If you have a long list of appointments, research, phone calls, ordering or similar tasks, this might be a great time saver for you. Again, treat the early days as a learning curve, just as you would with a new member of your team in your office.
Find someone local for your routine in-person work
There are likely to be plenty of people in your local community who’d be happy to help out with a routine task for a few hours. With your £30 you could save yourself a few hours by getting someone else to stand in the post office queue for you, clean your kitchen, or even wrap your Christmas presents.
Swap your skills with someone you know
Find someone who wants what you do, and who does what you want, and agree to barter. That might be for time, skills or products, or a combination. The important thing here, is to be clear and agree what you’re each going to do for the other. It doesn’t have to be an exchange of exactly equal nominal value, provided it works for you and the other person. Think broadly, and focus on improving the quality of your life. Even if it doesn’t save you time, if you can spend the same amount of time doing something you enjoy, rather than struggling with something you resent, it may well be worth it.
Finally – make it a habit
Even though letting go of things can take a lot of willpower in the early days, once you get into the habit of delegating, you’ll find it makes such a huge difference to your life that it becomes easier and easier to continue.
So here’s a challenge. Take one of these ideas, and try it out. See how it goes. Let me know in the comments below or by email – I’d love to hear how you get on.