September 14, 2020 Employees en_US 4 in 5 small business owners say they can’t work on their businesses because they’re too busy working in their businesses. The solution is delegation. Growing your business starts with the art of delegation

Growing your business starts with the art of delegation

By Myranda Mondry September 14, 2020

Small business owners are determined to focus on growth in 2020 and beyond, according to a QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping survey. Many of them have been affected by the coronavirus, so they’ve shifted their strategies to rebound.

But 97% of these business owners say they still manage business operations personally. These tasks include running payroll, handling HR responsibilities, and bookkeeping.

These same tasks prevent business owners from doing what they really want to do. Things like building new business strategies, focusing on their customers, or innovating to adapt to the “new normal.”

If they had their way, 22% of business owners say payroll would be the first thing to go, followed closely by marketing and IT support. And yet, 96% admit they have a hard time letting go when it comes to delegation. Even though the majority believe things would run just as smoothly if they took a step back.


At the end of the day, 4 in 5 small business owners say they can’t work on their businesses because they’re too busy working in their businesses. The solution to this age-old issue is the art of delegation.

If you struggle with delegation, you’re certainly not alone. Many small business owners see delegation as a relinquishing of power or leadership. But the opposite is true. Delegation frees up more time for you to work on growing a successful business, improving your leadership skills, and building an efficient team. Effective delegation can give your employees confidence and make them feel more invested in your business.

And, let’s face it, you started your business to follow your dreams, not to generate financial statements. Delegating specific tasks like marketing, HR, or bookkeeping to employees who excel in those fields can make your business better.

5 steps to delegate effectively

In theory, delegation is easy. All you have to do is ask for help. In reality, delegation means giving up some control and putting your trust in others—easier said than done. Here are a few tips to help you overcome your fears and delegate effectively.

1. Hire the right people

The key to successful delegation is hiring the right people. People you can trust. If you can’t trust your team to handle simple or repetitive tasks, it’s an indicator that you may need to work on the team you’ve built.

On the flip side, you may not have given your team a chance to show off what they can do. When you delegate, you allow your employees to shine. You show them that you trust them to get the job done. In return, they may feel more engaged, important, and motivated to succeed.

That doesn’t mean you should hand tasks out at random. Take a moment to consider who is the best fit for each task. When you play to your workers’ strengths, you’ll feel more confident with the delegation process.

2. Allow for learning

If you’re a perfectionist or believe that no one can do the job as well as you can, delegation can be difficult. Because you’re right, they probably won’t do it perfectly the first time. Rather than jumping in and taking over, allow some space for learning.

When delegating a new task to an employee, follow this four-step process for effective delegation:

  • They watch you. Do the task you intend to delegate while your employee watches. Encourage them to take notes and ask questions. Then debrief with your employee afterward.
  • You watch them. Once they feel confident, switch roles. Watch as your employee does the task. Offer prompts or feedback when necessary.
  • They report back. Once you both feel confident in the employee’s ability to accomplish the task without your supervision, step back. Give them the opportunity to do the task on their own and report back to you.
  • They do it. Congratulations! You’ve effectively delegated. Your employee can accomplish the task, and you can feel confident in their abilities. It’s still OK to check in from time to time to offer support.

3. Communicate effectively

Delegation doesn’t mean washing your hands of a task entirely. Effective team communication ensures you’re never totally out of the loop. And it starts with you.

Communicate objectives and expectations from the start. Your team should know exactly what you expect from them and how you want the results. If there are particular details you want to know, outline those ahead of time. If needed, create checklists or specialized reports for each task to ensure you get the information you need.

Your employees shouldn’t feel like you’re watching over their shoulders or controlling their decisions. But they should know that they can always approach you with ideas, questions, or concerns.

4. Set delegation boundaries

Not all tasks are created equal. Some tasks make more sense to delegate than others. Set clear delegation boundaries, so you always know which tasks to take on and pass off.

Start by evaluating the tasks you currently have on your plate. For each task, ask yourself if someone else on your team could handle it or if there’s a benefit to doing it yourself. You’ll start to see a pattern. Certain tasks are easy to delegate. Others require your attention.

In general, you can delegate tasks

  • With clearly defined procedures and results.
  • That fit into the business’s day-to-day workflow.
  • That help employees develop their skills and grow.

Tasks you might want to hold onto are sensitive tasks, such as salary reviews or disciplinary actions, or tasks that involve your entrepreneurial vision.

5. Back off

Once you’ve delegated a task, back off. If your employee has to come to you for every decision, why delegate? With the right people, training, and boundaries in place, there’s no need for micromanagement.

Take this opportunity to focus your time and energy on other things, like working on your business.

If bookkeeping is one thing you’re ready to delegate, QuickBooks Live Bookkeeping can help.

Learn more.

This content is for information purposes only and should not be considered legal, accounting or tax advice, or a substitute for obtaining such advice specific to your business. Additional information and exceptions may apply. Applicable laws may vary by state or locality. No assurance is given that the information is comprehensive in its coverage or that it is suitable in dealing with a customer’s particular situation. Intuit Inc. does not have any responsibility for updating or revising any information presented herein. Accordingly, the information provided should not be relied upon as a substitute for independent research. Intuit Inc. does not warrant that the material contained herein will continue to be accurate nor that it is completely free of errors when published. Readers should verify statements before relying on them.

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Myranda Mondry

Senior Content Creator

Myranda Mondry is a senior content creator for the QuickBooks Resource Center. Her work has been published in Forbes, The Huffington Post, and other top-tier publications. Myranda currently resides in Boise, Idaho, where she runs an Etsy shop selling handmade heirloom quilts. She’s passionate about her dogs, '80s rock music, and helping small businesses succeed. Read more