Stick to what you do best. Delegate everything else to highly capable 'others'. It's good, logical advice. But when you're starting out, how easy is it really to follow?
This is essentially the advice in the attached article below, which is aimed at solopreneurs and small businesses whose propositions centre around the talent of one key individual.
The main crux of the article is that like fashion houses built around one creative design genius, if you're the unique talent within your business, you should focus on unlocking all the potential of that talent, whilst surrounding yourself with others who can help you with the stuff that you're not so great at. It's less about delegation by a founder and more about an efficient distribution of resources and energies within the team that drives that initial business idea forward and keeps it on track.
Is it just me or does that sound a little bit utopian for the majority of entrepreneurs? Especially solopreneurs, who at the start of their business invention process, generally find that they have no option but to be all members of the ideal team on top of producing whatever it is that makes them saleable and unique.
I asked the highly successful solopreneur, Hannah Martin, co-founder of brilliant on-line platform, The Talented Ladies Club, whether her personal experience of starting her own business – and indeed, the experiences of the many thousands of startups and solopreneurs whom she now supports – is consistent with the ideal of sticking to what you do best and leaving everything else to others.
This is what Hannah shared with me:
“When you first launch a new business, you often have no choice but to wear all the hats – from creative genius, marketing director and social media manager, to bookkeeper, project manager and even cleaner,” says Hannah. “While this may feel frustrating at times, especially when you just want to focus on the activities you love (and which are often the reason why you started the business in the first place!), it can be a huge advantage. Because when you participate in every part of your business from the beginning, you can’t help but know it inside out. You also are able to shape and build each element yourself, around your business’ original mission and vision. You may also surprise yourself with talents in areas you had never considered before! And when the time comes that you can afford to outsource the parts of your business you don’t enjoy or that aren’t your strengths, you’ll have a much clearer idea of what is needed in them, and who would be a perfect fit for them.”
As a business gets under way, the advice in the attached article is undoubtedly sage. Scalability is a common challenge for solopreneurs after all and delegation is something that many founders claim to find difficult, but essential in the longer term.
Meanwhile, until things really take off, the reality is that where your friends and family can't be cajoled, threatened or bribed into helping you out, as Hannah points out, you'll be rolling up your sleeves and playing every role in your business, from chairperson to coder, sales team PR and accountant, investor to caterer and caretaker, in the same way you've been doing up to now. The luxury of a team and some hired help is an aspiration to work up to once the sales really start rolling in.
Use Your Talent -- If your talent is what you’re selling, your business should be built around that talent. Put yourself in the center of the organization and build the business around you. Stick with what you’re great at and assign other necessary tasks to staff members. Don’t delegate the work that only you are uniquely qualified to do to others who don’t possess your talent. That will diminish your product. If you’re helming a tech startup, and your true talent is coding, build around that. Hire a partner who can envision the next killer app, and be the one to code it into being. Don’t take on too many business or managerial tasks if this isn’t where you shine.