When you run a small business, it's easy to fall into the habit of taking on everything. But doing so simply doesn't make sense. You can't do it all—nor should you. Trying to take on every aspect of your business will likely mean that everything gets just a little less attention than it should. And that will cost you in the long run.
So if we're in agreement that you shouldn't be doing everything, what should you offload and how?
Say you're a marketing consultant and that part of your work entails lots and lots of tactical research so that you can make informed, strategic recommendations to your clients. You need to recognize that your particularly area of expertise is making those strategic recommendations—not toiling away gathering the information. Do you need that information? Of course. But your time is better spent on the high-level, big picture things. So what do you do? You bring on help that can do the tactical work and deliver it to you in a way that allows you to do what your clients pay you for: strategy. It's up to you to determine the level of help you need for tactical work, but consider interns or students. Not only are they cost efficient and eager, but hiring them in a tactical capacity is a great way to groom them perhaps for future, more formal employment.
Bottom line: offload the tactical and focus on the big picture.
Lots of small business owners love handling the clerical elements of their business. Think accounting, bookkeeping, payroll, HR, etc. To them, we say, "More power to you!" If you're passionate about disciplines that power your business, do them. But if you fall into the "I hate doing this thing but I know it has to get done" camp, consider your options. Since we know a lot about accounting, we'll use that as an example. If you loathe accounting, offload it. Consider online accounting software (hint, hint) or a bookkeeper that can handle the nitty gritty that pains you so. Similarly, if you're bad at, say, scheduling meetings or maintaining an organized calendar, hire a virtual assistant.
The more time you spend wallowing in clerical work you dislike, the less time you're able to dedicate to doing what you love.
If your business relies heavily on marketing (and most do), there are ways to lessen the load—and it's all about automation. From email marketing to social media to digital advertising, there are countless tools out there that can help you automate marketing activities. That's not to say you can just set it and forget—you need to stay involved to control things like customer engagement, messaging, branding, etc. But you don't need to be sending out marketing emails from your personal email address once a week.
Yes, it's good to get out of the office every now and then, but as we know, time is money. The more you can cut down on your "in transit" time, the more time you can dedicate to actual work. So instead of going to the bank to deposit payment checks, see if your bank has mobile deposit. Instead of making a monthly office supplies trip, schedule (and automate!) your purchases online.
Have more tasks that small business owners shouldn't be doing? Tell us on Twitter.