“As entrepreneurs, we often get used to doing everything ourselves instead of learning to manage and delegate,” she writes in her bestselling book, Million Dollar Women. “But to get to the million-dollar revenue mark and beyond, it’s much less about multitasking and much more about leading a team. Which means developing a host of leadership and management skills – chief among them, learning to delegate.”
Pimsleur practices what she preaches, which is why she’s been able to expand her entrepreneurial empire to include an online business school, an annual summit for 200 women in New York City, and an active speaking career – all while raising two boys under the age of 14.
We chatted to the busy-but-not-burned-out author about her best advice for delegation for entrepreneurs at every stage of their business journeys.
What’s the most common misperception about delegation you’ve uncovered in the decision makers you work with?
The most common misperception is that you can do it in what I call the “delegate and ditch” fashion. This means handing off a task or project, giving very little support or feedback, and getting it back perfectly executed. Successful delegators know this rarely works, if ever. You need to communicate clearly and frequently, with constructive feedback, in order to be happy with the results. It also helps to send a detailed brief for the assignment to the freelancer or collaborator you are working with in order to make sure you are all on the same page (literally).
I also see people giving up too soon and blaming the person they handed off to or hired, instead of their own delegation skills (or lack thereof). When the project comes back incomplete or not to their standard, some decision makers think the takeaway is “I shouldn’t delegate, it never goes right,” or “they aren’t good enough” when the takeaway should really be “I need to get better at delegating.” This means mastering basic delegation best practices, like trust but verify (allowing freelancers and coworkers to do the job you hired them to do) and “review early and often”—aka, checking in on progress frequently to make sure they are on track.
Also, you can’t expect what you delegated to come back 100% as you envisioned in your head. Freelancers are not mind readers—but they are professionals, and they can help you achieve what you want if you describe your needs clearly. Expect them to understand 80% of what you envisioned, and then work together to align the remaining 20% to your goal.
Why is delegating – and learning to let go of 100% control – critically important for growing a business?
As long as you are the only one doing everything, you will quickly become the bottleneck in your company, or the “octopreneur” as I like to say (the entrepreneur with eight arms doing everything). It might feel good to do be the one who drafts every proposal and creates every social media post and fixes every broken link on the website, but as you grow, you need to start asking yourself “Is this really the best and highest use of my time?” Or would that time be better spent creating new products and services, networking, selling more, following up with clients, and learning from other entrepreneurs and mentors?
The paradox of entrepreneurship is that many people start a business because they are really good at doing something, whether creating a product or a delivering set of services. But in order to grow, they have to cultivate a whole other set of skills that they often have no training in, including managing, delegating, and outsourcing. Their ability to grow their business depends on getting those things right, not the very thing they started the business to do. They can learn them by reading about productivity, working with a coach, or modeling more successful entrepreneurs who have teams. I hired an efficiency coach when I was growing my first business, Little Pim, and that set me up to be a delegation ninja – and teach others to do the same.
What’s one example of something an entrepreneur can almost always delegate?
Social media. You can use a platform like Buffer or Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance—and there are tons of talented freelance social media managers who can help whip up clever copy and strategic posts to fit your needs.
What’s one thing an entrepreneur should usually not delegate?
Personal writing—emails, proposals, etc—is in many ways an extension of your voice, so can be tricky to delegate. Make sure that anyone to whom you delegate a writing task is familiar with your style. Creating a style guide is a great exercise that can help you understand your own personal brand and better communicate it to others.
As a treat for Fiverr readers, Pimsleur is making the “Delegate Your Way To The Top” chapter of Million Dollar Women available as a free download. Just head over to Julia’s website to download a copy. You’ll get insights on what Julia calls “BBT” – the “best and brightest time” for managing tasks – plus other great tips to help you better manage your time and position yourself for success in your field!