As an entrepreneur, one of the very first things you will learn quickly is the need to delegate for success.
Entrepreneurship comes with an overwhelming number of tasks. Far more than any one person can reasonably handle, let alone master.
And yet we place a huge amount of pressure on ourselves to become the ultimate ‘boss’ who’s a:
- Master content marketer
- Genius social media expert
- Savvy SEO specialist
- Diligent website developer
And more! All while somehow finding the time to create, follow up on leads, nurture our relationships, network like crazy, and nail the whole ‘life’ thing – you know, the partner, the kids, the hobbies, the friends…
I’ve fallen down this rabbit hole myself on more than one occasion, and it’s the biggest reason that drives my own clients to seek my help.
At some point, every entrepreneur realises that they can’t do it all.
Not because they’re incapable, but because time is finite, nobody is good at everything, and your business is better served if you have experts attending to critical elements.
The people who have dedicated themselves to genuinely mastering those skills, who can produce the results you need to grow a successful business.
The fine art of delegation is a skill every entrepreneur struggles with, but all business owners need to learn if they want to push their business past a certain level.
With the best will in the world, there is only so much you can do yourself, and certain things that you can only do so well.
Your business is going to reach a point at which it plateaus because further growth requires more than you’re able to personally give. And this isn’t a failure on your part, not at all. Time is finite, that’s all there is to it.
Delegating certain tasks is critical to achieving greater efficiency in your business, effectively managing all those myriad tasks, and allowing your business to flourish because it gives you the time and space needed to bring your A-game to the things you are doing yourself.
Why Delegation Is Key To Growing A Successful Business
You will often hear in entrepreneurial circles that you need to ‘delegate for success.’
I am by no means the first person to say it! But it’s frequently assumed that we intrinsically understand the logic behind this.
Anyone who has worked in a managerial position or as the leader of a team will likely be able to grasp the ‘why’ of delegation reasonably easily:
When you have a big project or undertaking there is a massive amount to do and dividing those tasks between multiple people not only ensures everything gets done, it allows you to assign tasks to the people most capable of completing them.
If you’ve never had to work like this, it can be trickier to wrap your head around, especially when you’re first starting out in business.
There are a few reasons for this but it essentially boils down to the fact that the majority of startups, by necessity, have to minimise costs as much as possible, and we are frequently seduced by the rather romanticised notion of the ‘solopreneur’.
Doing everything yourself means you’re not paying other people – you’re saving money.
Doing everything yourself is also a badge of honour: it’s your business, you built it from scratch, all by yourself, there’s nothing that can’t be learned, what you can dream you can do, etc…
While minimising your expenditure is good business sense, and the inspirational vision of pulling yourself up by your proverbial bootstraps is great motivation when you’re first starting out, and have no choice but do everything yourself, there comes a point when it stops being helpful and starts to hinder you.
When do you reach that point?
When the amount of money you can earn in any given hour by working in your zone of genius exceeds the amount you would need to pay someone else to complete some of the stuff on your to-do list.
What Is A ‘Zone Of Genius’?
As your business grows and your abilities and reach (not to mention skills) increase, you’ll be in a position to increase your prices (something my money mentor, Laura Elkaslassy, will tell you needs doing on a regular basis).
This will naturally lead you to a point where you are spending time doing things you could outsource for far less than the amount you would earn if you spent that time on the aspects of your business only you can do; your zone of genius.
But what exactly is a zone of genius?
The concept of a ‘zone of genius’ has been around for a while, but it was Gay Hendricks’ book, The Big Leap, that propelled it to fame.
Succinctly put, finding your zone of genius is a basic human compulsion, a natural drive to feel fulfilled in your life and work, and connected in some way to a greater purpose.
To feel valued and valuable.
Every individual’s zone of genius is different, as unique as their personality, and everyone has one.
The beauty of entrepreneurship is that it allows you to tap directly into your zone of genius and leverage your own unique gifts to earn a living.
Working in your zone of genius is what makes your business successful, partly because it’s a built-in Unique Selling Point (USP), and partly because you are exceptionally good at it.
If you’re still a little fuzzy on the zone of genius concept, look at it this way:
We all have varying degrees of skill and competence in a broad range of areas, both personally and professionally. Nobody is good or bad at everything, and we are all better or worse at certain things.
We can group every aspect of life into four quadrants, or ‘zones’: zone of genius, zone of excellence, zone of competence, and zone of incompetence.
Zone of Genius
There aren’t many things that genuinely fall within your zone of genius, but the things that do light you up. Doing these things leaves you feeling energised, excited, and entirely accomplished. This is stuff you could happily do all day, every day, bounding out of bed in the morning eager to start work because you love it so much.
It’s absorbing, engaging, and time kind of stands still when you’re working – no dragging days, no watching the clock.
You’re not just using skills when you do this stuff, you’re indulging your passions and practising your gifts – nobody does this like you do!
Zone of Excellence
Here’s the crucial aspect of identifying your zone of genius – compare it to your zone of excellence. Because you will find that you’re good at a lot of things, especially if you’re an entrepreneur.
Entrepreneurs collect skills like they’re Fabergé eggs.
With so much to do when you first start your business and nobody else to do it, you have no choice but to learn. You figure it out, you get things done, and along the way, you get good at doing a lot of different things.
But here’s the crucial difference – your zone of excellence is a collection of things you’re good at, while your zone of genius are the very few things that you’re not only exceptionally good at, but so good the results you achieve or the method you use cannot be replicated by anyone else.
Your zone of excellence is stuff you’re good at, maybe even better at than a lot of other people, but there are still plenty of others out there capable of doing it much better than you.
Zone of Competence
This is where we start to venture into the realm of things you’re not brilliant at. As the name suggests you can competently do things in this area, but you’re not great at them.
You’re about average, maybe even a little below average, and there are plenty of people out there who can do these things better than you.
Zone of Incompetence
There is no shame in admitting incompetence in certain areas.
Nobody can be good at everything, there simply isn’t enough time to learn every skill, and just as you will have a natural affinity and flair for certain things you will have weak areas in which you are an unmitigated disaster no matter how hard you try.
Everybody can do these things better than you, your brain either isn’t wired for them, or is capable of doing them but not without making you seriously frustrated, stressed, or annoyed.
Connecting Your Zone Of Genius To Delegate For Success In Business
If you’re wondering what all of this has to do with delegation and business, it’s actually very simple.
Your business will become more successful the more time and focus you devote to your zone of genius – that one particular thing you do better than anyone else.
The unique selling point that brings people to your business that convinces prospects to become clients.
You are the only person who can do the things that fall within your zone of genius, because not only can nobody else do them as well as you can, nobody else can do them in quite the way you do.
These are the skills that allow you to increase your prices and charge a premium for your time.
Delegating Saves Money While Increasing Revenue And Earning Potential
Just for a moment, let’s define business success as a purely monetary figure.
When we do this, it’s easy to see how delegating works.
If you spend all your working hours doing highly specialised tasks that are billed at a premium rate, your income will be a lot higher than if you spent some of those hours doing tasks that only netted a basic rate, or didn’t generate any income at all.
It’s just math.
The more time you spend in your zone of genius, the more revenue you will generate.
But time, as we have established, is finite, and there are a lot of things that happen in a business on a day-to-day basis – tasks that are essential to keeping things running, attracting new clients, and serving the clients you already have.
These are things that need to get done but are not within your zone of genius. Spending your time doing these things will decrease your revenue and earning potential.
So while delegating these tasks may feel like spending money – and in a literal sense, it is because you will need to pay people for their time – overall you are still earning more than you would by doing everything yourself.
Why? Because what you get paid for your highly skilled zone of genius is almost certainly going to be higher than the amount you will pay to delegate tasks outside your zone of genius.
The more specialised your zone of genius is, the truer this becomes.
For example, a receptionist might be hired for a range of roles but the most you would expect to pay them would be $20-$80 per hour. A highly-specialised business coach, on the other hand, might charge anything from $200 to $2,000 per hour, potentially even more.
If you spend $80 outsourcing something and in that time earn $100, you are still $20 better off overall.
Delegating Is Good For Your Health And Your Business Growth
Let’s go beyond the purely monetary definition of success for a moment and consider the deeper meaning of your zone of genius.
At its core, your zone of genius is the kind of work that lights you up inside, makes you feel happy, valued, and purposeful. It’s the stuff you would gladly spend all day, every day doing.
There are a lot of things in business that people really hate doing, and it varies from person to person.
I, for example, dislike reconciling accounts every month – now I love numbers but for me, reconciling is a time and energy-sucking task that I’d rather not deal with.
For a lot of people, it’s taxes, or marketing of any kind. Tasks that are completely unavoidable if you want to build a successful business but really make you feel awful.
Compare the feeling of spending your time doing the thing you love doing best, to spending it anxious, frustrated, and even angry while trying to do something you hate.
The net benefit of devoting your time to your zone of genius is far higher than the monetary rewards you receive – it’s actually better for your mental and physical wellbeing because it drastically reduces the amount of stress you’re placing on yourself.