Delegating to Avoid Burnout: An Entrepreneur’s Solution - Craft Your Content

Delegating to Avoid Burnout: An Entrepreneur’s Solution

There aren’t enough hours in a day.

Here at Craft Your Content, someone is always working. I mean that literally. After combining the hours of our team of approximately 10 members, we put in the same number of hours that are in a week. Not work hours, mind you, real human hours. 24/7.

On a closer look, Elisa Doucette, our founder, works 35 percent of those hours, followed by Managing Editor Julia Hess and I (content producer) combined at another 30 percent, and then the rest of the team at the remaining 35 percent.

While that’s still pretty top-heavy, we’re at a better place than we were in 2017 thanks to the art of delegation.

You only need to look at Elisa’s hours to know that running a business is more than a full-time job. One that you absolutely cannot do alone.

In the first quarter of 2018, we expanded our client base quite a bit. We were only able to do that because Elisa took the time to write about CYC, write about what we do, and market us as a service worth investing in. She also took on the gargantuan task of creating an eight-week writing course based on copywork.

And she was only able to do that because she found tasks she could delegate to her team.

Now let me offer forth this disclaimer: our system is far from perfect. Delegation is a constant negotiation between oneself and one’s team, especially if you’re like us, an agency of contractors. But in the past few months, thanks to delegation, we have been able to expand as a business and as a team, all because we started trusting in the skills of our peers and letting go of the notion that a single person can do all the things.

The 60+ Hour Work Week

When you’re an entrepreneur trying to launch or grow a business, the onus is on you to make sure your business is getting the exposure it needs, bringing in new customers, AND functioning properly for those customers.

That’s overwhelming, isn’t it?

If you’re left doing this on your own, there’s a tendency to lose your sense of time … and in the process, your sense of sanity. That’s a slippery slope to burnout.

When you’re working over 60 hours a week, it’s time to close your laptop and get some rest. Or go outside. Both would be preferred.

But, having worked at CYC for almost three years, and having gone through this myself, I know that delegating the work you know and know you’re good at can be extremely tough. Especially if you’re Type A like most of us here.

I bet delegation sounds like a great idea in theory, but the idea of actually doing it gives you heart palpitations. Not only do you have to find the right person for the job, but you also have to train them correctly and help them adjust, and what if they aren’t the right person after all? That sounds like more work and a lot of risk … better to just continue working 65 hours a week.

No.

That type of thinking will only make you more overwhelmed. Your business will suffer in the process, while the goal is to grow your business.

The Delegation State of Mind

delegating

It’s going to get worse before it gets better. Just know that right off the bat. In addition to continuing the work that you’ve been doing, you have to find the person (or people) to delegate to, and make sure they know what they’re doing before you toss them from the nest.

For some, it will be easy. When Elisa realized she needed to delegate, she chose the people on her team who had been here the longest and shown the most responsibility, drive, and dedication to quality.

But if you’re starting from square one, that might mean hiring someone completely new. If you know what you want, the job should be relatively easy. If not, you need to get that squared away first.

Who to Look For

There are so many different kinds of businesses out there, and this article would be pages upon pages long if I attempted to find team members for every one of them. So instead, I’ve picked five positions that could help an entrepreneur, and highlighted the qualities that you should look for when filling any position.

Social Media Manager

Unless you run a social media management business, you really shouldn’t be spending your precious working hours posting on all of your social platforms. Depending on how much you rely on social media to promote your business, this team member could be a part-time or full-time addition. If you find someone marketing-savvy, then you could eventually promote them to an all-encompassing marketing manager.

Some tasks your social media manager can take off your plate:

  1. Optimizing your Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc. pages.
  2. Writing and producing posts for each platform.
  3. Interacting with readers on each platform.
  4. Staying up-to-date with social media strategy and practices.
  5. Monitoring analytics and breaking down what content gets the most clicks on each platform.

In addition to being familiar with each social media platform, your social media manager needs to be a great problem-solver (because these platforms love to change the rules on our businesses), level-headed (you don’t need someone arguing with trolls or being a troll under your brand), and have a disciplined schedule they follow. While social media can be automated and scheduled as far in advance as you’d like, your social media manager should be fine setting and sticking to deadlines.

Copy Editor

If you have a website, you have website copy and (hopefully) a blog. Even if your business deals with numbers, customers will be hiring you based on how well you can convince them you’re good with numbers. That involves writing out some persuasive and catchy copy that represents your business. Grammar errors aren’t persuasive or catchy.

Some tasks copy editors can take off your plate:

  1. Providing developmental edits, line edits, or proofreading existing site copy.
  2. Editing new site copy.
  3. Editing blog posts.
  4. Editing email blasts or campaigns.
  5. Reviewing and proofing social media posts.

While this might not necessarily lessen the amount of time you spend on site copy, blogs, or social media posts, it will ensure that extra level of quality you need to grow your business and will probably help you sleep better at night, knowing you aren’t putting out articles with words misspelled.

We’ve written before about how to find the right editor for you. Overall, your copy editor should be extremely detail-oriented, willing to work with and pay attention to your style guide, and tough, but supportive. Don’t hire a jerk unless they are an editing prodigy … and even then, jerks are no fun to work with.

Copy writer

Let’s say you aren’t a great writer, don’t want to write, or simply don’t have time to write blog posts or site copy. That’s where a copy writer comes in. While copy writer and copy editor may sound similar, they are not created equal. Some writers have great style, but terrible grammar, and some copy editors are bland writers. They are two separate skill sets.

Some tasks copy writers can take off your plate:

  1. Turning an idea into a fully written article.
  2. Brainstorming content for future blog posts.
  3. Rewriting site copy to be more expressive, technical, or succinct.
  4. Writing additional site copy.
  5. Writing email blasts or campaigns.

We’ve also written before about what you should look for in a writer. They should have a strong voice and style that aligns with your vision. They should also be willing to change their articles if you have suggestions, should always hit their deadlines, and should produce high-quality work consistently.

If you hire a copy writer without also hiring a copy editor (which isn’t recommended, but understandable), make sure they either have editing experience or that you make time to give their writing a once-over before it publishes.

Content Producer

If you’re not familiar with the term “content producer,” then get with the program quick, because hiring one will change your life.

Whether you’re creating your own content or having your content created for you, the content producer will tie everything up in a pretty bow and make sure everything gets sent out on schedule.

Some tasks content producers can take off your plate:

  1. Replacing site copy on your website platform (WordPress, SquareSpace, Wix, etc.).
  2. Formatting and publishing blog posts on your website.
  3. Formatting emails into an automator.
  4. Creating landing pages or opt-ins.
  5. Finding or creating graphics to accompany articles and site copy.
  6. Optimizing your website for search engines and mobile accessibility.
  7. Keeping track of your style guide and making sure all content is in line with your brand.

As a content producer, I also ran social media for a while, so if you can find someone who does both, all the better.

Your content producer should be a visual person, a little OCD, and really good at learning and adapting. It’s very hard to find someone familiar with your site setup and/or your email platform. However, they should be able to pick it up really fast. With new software always coming out, a content producer should have the ability to take on new tasks and new challenges without any hand-holding on your part. Your content producer also should hold fast to a schedule and be your accountability if you (or your team) aren’t hitting that schedule.

Virtual Assistant

This is a general title assigned to a team member who can do a little bit of everything, or a very specific set of things, that you might need help with. Keep in mind, though, that most virtual assistants take care of smaller tasks that free up the time taken by menial aspects of what you do. If they did anything substantial, they’d need a better title and higher pay.

Some tasks virtual assistants can take off your plate:

  1. Managing your emails with clients and employees.
  2. Setting up meetings and monitoring your calendar.
  3. Entering data, creating spreadsheets.
  4. Managing basic social media.
  5. Checking facts and doing research.

If you find a good virtual assistant and are willing to pay for them, you could hire someone full-time who could take on some tasks performed by other positions as well (like producing content or writing copy). Unfortunately, an affordable, talented, and reliable super VA is quite the elusive hire.

In general, though, look for a VA who has great communication skills, is reliable, and who takes personal responsibility for their work. You don’t want someone who’s just going to add to your workload (more on that in a bit).

Honorable Mentions: Web Developer, Accountant, Audio/Video Engineer, Sales Manager

Training Is Fundamental

Once you’ve hired someone (or a team) to delegate your work to, you’ll have to make sure they’re brought up to speed with your business practices. The training period will be the most work-intensive time for you, because you’ll have to continue at your current pace while also spending time acquainting your employee with the work you do.

And if you want this relationship to be successful, you’ll have to put some real effort into training.

Whether that means setting up a series of training calls, creating how-to guides, or creating how-to videos, you want to make sure you’ve given them every possible resource so they can take over the tasks with ease and without asking you too many questions once you’ve handed it off.

This is also the time to reinforce your expectations about the level of quality and the level of professionalism expected from your team.

If you don’t do it from the beginning, they may assume you’re lax in certain areas you’re actually not. Make sure you communicate with them as much as you want them to communicate with you.

They’re Here to Help You, Not Hurt You

The reason you’ve hired someone is so that they can lessen the burden of running a business. In an ideal situation, your new hire will alleviate enough stress for you to be able to focus on the higher-order issues of your business and work on growing your customer base. That way, you can bring in more money and hire more people to help manage the great amount of work.

The reality is, even with a team of 10 people, you might still be working over 40 hours a week. Some things only you can do, and when a business grows, it grows especially for you.

When I say that delegation is a constant negotiation, that’s what I mean. If you land three new clients and your team is already at capacity, you might have to put some extra work in until you can expand your team. If one of your employees needs a vacation, or sick time, or quits, you might have to pick up the slack.

However, this doesn’t mean you should constantly be picking up the slack. When you put the time and money into hiring someone, training someone, and giving them a responsibility in your business, they should make things easier on you, not harder.

You shouldn’t be constantly chasing after your team members, reinforcing quality standards, or filling in for them when they can’t work. That only adds time and effort to your week, something you’re trying to avoid in the first place.

So make sure that when you delegate, you’re not asking for a favor, you’re giving them a job. If they can’t do it, then they’re not the right person for you.

When they do help, and when they go above and beyond, let them know how much you appreciate their work and then give them more, because you’ve got your own stuff to take care of.

The Time You’re Given Take Back

With the time you’ve freed up from delegating, you should be able to do a whole lot more for your business or your life. Both would be preferred.

First of all, if you need to normalize your sleep schedule, do that. Also, exercise. Once you have an idea of your day-to-day workload, create a schedule that allows for a healthy work/life balance.

If it turns out that your day-to-day workload has lessened more than you expected, great! Time to fill it back up with higher-order concerns like marketing strategy, expanding your offerings, and writing more.

Even if you have hired a copy writer to help you, you should still be writing for your business. When we get down to it, writing for your business isn’t a menial task to be delegated, it’s something that requires your time and attention.

Since you are the very top authority for your business, your audience wants to hear what you have to say from time to time. Furthermore, guest posting on other sites is a huge way to drive traffic to your business. We’re in an age of content-driven marketing, and you can’t delegate everything.

Hopefully this article puts you on the path to delegating more and getting out of the overworked, underpaid entrepreneur zone.

You didn’t become an entrepreneur to be miserable, and luckily there are people out there who can help.

About the Author Erika Rasso

Erika Rasso graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.A. in English and marketing and is currently working on her MFA in Screenwriting at the University of California, Los Angeles. She has worked as a writing consultant, an editor for a literary journal, and an editor for an academic journal. In her free time, Erika enjoys writing short stories and screenplays (though mostly she just watches WAY too many shows on Netflix). She is the Director of Production for Craft Your Content.

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