“Not knowing when how and when to delegate can sabotage your efforts to achieve success.” Anonymous
One of the biggest mistakes that people of all levels in a company, and especially entrepreneurs, make is that of trying to do and be everything themselves. Sometimes they are working on their own and believe there is no one else to do it, or do it as well as they can. Sometimes they simply haven’t learned how to structure work processes and procedures so they can share responsibility. Not knowing how to delegate well can be the kiss of death to your energy and enthusiasm for what you do. Good delegating can let you concentrate on what you do best. On the other hand, it is equally important to avoid only delegating what you don’t want to do, just because you don’t like doing it.
Whether you work for a corporation or you run your own business it’s especially important to delegate effectively. To help you do that, remember the three W’s of delegating: when, what and to whom.
· When you should delegate depends on how you’re spending your time on the needs of your company. If you can’t get out to meet potential clients because you have to write orders or monitor every detail of every report that comes out of your department, you are shortchanging your business. When the work you’ve identified as central to your success is not getting done, delegate. You can hire temporary help if you aren’t ready to hire permanent employees.
· What you should delegate is relatively simple to determine. Identify the tasks that are easiest for someone else to do, retaining those that you enjoy most and that contribute most to your success. Many delegate the paperwork that bores them—often financial statements, orders and payments. Be very sure, however, that you delegate only what you understand yourself. Delegating repetitive jobs often works best because you can tell the employee exactly what you expect. If you believe that no one can do what you do as well as you, you may be right, but it will slow you down. Good delegators know that others may be able to do certain jobs as well as they can or even better.
· To Whom you should delegate is a question that is easier to answer in theory than it is to put into practice. Find competent people and make your expectations and requirements very clear. You need to be clear about how much of the project you are delegating, when it is to be accomplished, and whom the person should contact if she needs help if it’s not you. Don’t assume people know what you mean or when you want it. Don’t assume the person to whom you delegate cares for the project as much as you do, or pays the same amount of attention to it as you would do. Keep in mind that they may approach things differently, but that it may not be less effective than your way.
The best way to provide an entrepreneurial atmosphere in a business is to delegate effectively by describing what needs to be done, showing employees how it was done before, and suggesting that they figure out a better way to suit them. Keep in touch with their progress, but stay out of their way.
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“I have clients who don’t have a clue what their profit-and-loss statements mean.” Glinda Bridgforth
When you turn over your money to a financial advisor, accountant or partner in business, there’s a potential disaster. Glinda Bridgforth, a financial advisor and author, believes that most people choose to work with an accountant or bookkeeper when their business starts to grow. She says, “It took one woman three years to realize her bookkeeper had embezzled $65,000. I have clients who have accountants handle their books, and when they receive the profit-and-loss statements, they don’t have a clue what they mean.”
If you run your own business and work with a bookkeeper or an accountant, pay heed to the following information to keep your business healthy and viable. Avoid making the mistakes that many people do, especially those who have their own businesses or organizations: delegating all the financials to even a trusted accountant or bookkeeper. Here are a few important tips to keep on top of your financial health:
1. Ask yourself important questions. If you have an accountant manage your books, ask, “Am I completely turning over control of this and not monitoring it?” Ask, “Do I really understand what these reports and statements mean, not only on paper, but how they affect my business?”
2. Value the importance of knowing your finances. Financial statements measure the health of your organization or business. You may think that things are going well because you are selling a lot of your product or services, but do you know exactly how much costs to deliver them? Understanding the relationship between expenses and earnings, gross and net profit (loss), and everyday business maintenance costs are essential to staying alive in business.
3. Stay involved. While outsourcing and delegating are important for managing your time most effectively, don’t let anyone else manage your money without your full understanding of what they are doing.
4. Set up time for reviewing and discussing your business financials with your accountant.
Yes, I know you’re extremely busy, but all else pales if you don’t have the money to continue your business. Set up regular meetings to discuss routine financial statements. Plan extra meetings when considering expanding your business in any way or for any other operating change you’re considering.
5. Expand your financial savvy. Take classes in classrooms or over the Internet if you don’t understand accounting statements. Or ask your accountant to spend the extra time to teach you. Read what is going on in the economy to get the pulse of your industry worldwide. You may not love numbers, but you’ll come to appreciate them much more with increased understanding how they work. Staying ahead in business is a numbers game with straight forward rules to winning or losing.
6. Trust your gut to find the right accountant. Just because someone has been referred to you doesn’t mean you don’t need to do your homework. Yes, look over and understand what you’ve hired them to do and pay attention to how you feel about them and their work. Your gut will wave a red flag if you sense something about them you can’t identify. Many people say they knew better than to trust their bookkeeper but didn’t let him go because they thought the person referring him knew the bookkeeper well. One woman said she didn’t fire her bookkeeper for just that reason, until she finally called the friend who gave the referral and was shocked to learn her friend had never worked with the bookkeeper and had only met him casually at a fundraiser.
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“ One of the most agonizing parts of starting a business with a partner is knowing that, just as in marriage, 50% end up in a divorce—some very painful.”Anonymous
If you’re considering working with a business partner, pay a lot of attention to the reasons why you want a partner, the personality and work ethics of the potential partner and your individual visions for the business. Here are a few tips for making the relationship successful:
1. Be sure you really need a long-term partner. Bringing in a partner only for financial reasons, for example, can lead to difficult work relations at best, and at worst can harm the business. Make sure the reason for the partnership is crystal clear to both parties.
2. Determine whether you share a similar philosophy about the business. Explore how well your work styles and skill sets match. Strong and enduring partnerships are more likely to be formed when you agree about the scope of the business, how it will grow, who will perform what functions, and other important business issues.
3. Check to see if you have compatible approach to the issue of balance between work and personal lives. Many people start their own businesses after quitting the corporate world because they wanted the flexibility to work their own hours. Many such women want to work around their children. The partnership wouldn’t work if the partners didn’t agree on the scope of the business or the amount of time each person was supposed to devote to it.
4. Be careful about starting a business with a friend. Just because you’ve known someone as a friend for a long time does not mean you can assume they think about business the same way you do. Many friendships suffer or end because of friends deciding to start a business without formally considering the partnership as a business entity. Much stress gets put on the friendship and can lead to disappointment or worse, the dissolution of the business.
5. Put your agreements in writing. When you are considering a partnership, think about how you can ensure that it will be run amicably and fairly, and put that in writing. Partnerships work for people in different ways, but they work best when all expectations and conditions are clear.
6. Write up an escape clause. Every agreement to combine efforts and financial responsibilities in a business should also have a written exit plan. It is very important to consider what could be done amicably and fairly if one or the other chooses not to remain in the business. The escape clause should also discuss the dissolution of the entire business either by choice or because of the economy or other external forces.
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“People make mistakes in hiring when they employ someone in their own image, and not for the job that they want them to do. Those mistakes are often made by employers who haven’t written job descriptions. They really don’t know what they want.” Maureen Hochler, President, Hochler Associates
As anyone who has ever managed knows, hiring is among the most important responsibilities of any business setting. Bringing the right person in can add great value to any enterprise; hiring someone who doesn’t fit the job or the organization can lead to all kinds of problems. There’s a lot at stake. Effective management can make the difference between an organization that is fired up and highly competitive and one that seems preoccupied with its internal problems. For the very small business, having the wrong person in a job can be so distracting that it may seriously jeopardize that business’s existence.
The best preparation for avoiding employee problems is to be aware of four basic issues of managing and hiring:
1. Understand your own business style.
2. Be clear about your position as an employer.
3. Choose the people you work with carefully.
4. Manage with the “big picture” in mind.
Questions to ask yourself to determine your business style:
· Do you like to jump into things or take my time to research every detail?
· Whether you jump into things or research them carefully, do they usually work out as you hoped?
· Do you rely a lot on your intuition?
· Do you prefer tried and true ways of doing things?
Questions to ask yourself to see if you present yourself as an employer:
· Do you seek friendship from your employees?
· Are you clear about your own position?
· Are you inclusive or authoritarian?
· Do you present yourself as a mother/father figure?
· Do you like to teach or preach?
Questions to ask yourself about choosing people you work with:
· Do you tend to surround yourself people who are just like you?
· Do you have patience with different approaches to things?
· Are you clear of what you need from a potential employee?
· Are you impressed by degrees more than presentation?
Questions to ask yourself about keeping the “big picture” in mind:
· Do you have a mental or actual list of priorities?
· Do you have exit strategies in mind as well as hiring?
· Do you know the state and federal government rules on hiring and firing?
· Do you have a written business plan?
If you know the answers to the above questions, you are more apt to avoid mistakes with hiring and work with your employees. This is one area of management that it’s best to have a plan and avoid trial and error approaches. With this set of questions and answers you’re goal of hiring the right people and keeping them is greatly improved.
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