Giving Away Twenty Percent


Small business owners, particularly professionals, automatically get to wear at least three hats: Owner, Manager and Service Provider. And often it doesn't seem to stop there.


Successful owners often find themselves limited because they are doing too much. This not only can limit the business potential, it can also limit the growth and development of the team members, efficiency, effectiveness and the quality of service for clients. 

One way to add value and create greater capacity is for the business owner to take inventory and delegate 20% of the tasks they do each year. 



The initial challenge is to take inventory, and here’s is how that works:


1.    Make three lists of tasks that you perform as a business owner and/or manager using the following categories:

  • Tasks I am really good at
  • Tasks I am competent at
  • Tasks I am not competent at

2.    Be sure to list everything you can think of in each category about. 

3.    Create a fourth list of tasks being performed as a Service Provider that are not essential for you to perform. For example, a dentist may be performing tasks clinically that a competent assistant could do. 


PRIORITIZE and Take action

Once the lists are complete, prioritizing and taking action are next.


4.    Review all four lists (task I am good at, tasks at I am competent at, task I am not competent at, tasks I shouldn't be doing) and identify 20% of the tasks that will be delegated for the coming year. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind:

  • The task might be better delegated to a third party rather than a team member – for example bookkeeping, payroll, marketing, social media
  • Just because a task is on the “I am really good at” list doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be delegated. (As the world’s #1 stapler and two-hole punch operator, it occurred to me at one point that spending time meeting with clients might make more sense than flaunting my filing skills!)
  • Don’t let judgment about who can take the task get in the way of the commitment to delegate. 

5.    Identify which on your lists are the top three priorities.

6.    Determine to whom the top three tasks will be delegated.

7.    Use the See One, Do One, Teach One method to train the person who will be taking on each task. 

  • See One – show/teach the person how to do the task so they can See it bing done.
  • Do One – have the person do the task while you are present so that you can validate that the standards for that task are met. This step may need to be repeated more than once.
  • Have the person teach you (as well as other team members, when appropriate) how to do the task.
  • The above three steps create the understanding and the ability for the “what” and “how” of a task. To complete the training, discuss whythe task is important to perform for the clients, the business, and the team.


8.    Check in daily, weekly, monthly – which ever is the appropriate time interval and talk about progress: What’s working, what’s breaking down, what are the successes, what actions will be taken for continued improvement.

9.    Once it is clear that the task is being well managed, your management role is complete.

10.  Continue delegating until you reach at least 20%.