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Five Key Tasks A Small Business Owner Should Never Delegate — And What Tasks They Should


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by Rich Allen, author of “The Ultimate Business Tune Up: A Simple Yet Powerful Business Model That Will Transform the Lives of Small Business Owners

One of the key challenges facing Small Business Owners (SBOs) is what to delegate and what to manage. SBOs are often used to covering all the bases — if you started your company on a dream and a shoestring, it’s hard to let go of the day-to-day details. But that small-scale mentality can be a trap. Straining to keep your eyes on everything at once, and not letting go of responsibility for every detail is absolutely exhausting. You’ll be so worn out you’ll have little energy left for ensuring your own business’s sustainability and growth.

That’s why hiring talented and resourceful employees is vital. You need a team of great people on board to take over many of the tasks required for the business to function. Give them clear expectations and let them take over. That way, you’re free to focus on the big-picture tasks you should never leave to someone else.

Here are the 5 top tasks an SBO should never delegate:

1. Setting the Vision for the Future.

This assignment belongs to the business owner, and them alone. They must be able to articulate the future they hope to create with and for their business.  This is not a team-task or a committee activity.  It is the responsibility of the business owner.  It must be driven by their person desire and passion for making a difference in the future with their business.

2. Setting the Performance Standards.

Every business operates to a standard. It is a primary role of the business owner to define the specific performance standards they expect and demand from their team.  The standards will reflect the attitude and beliefs of the business owner and should represent the level of performance necessary to generate exceptional customer loyalty.

3. Establishing the “Non-Negotiables.”

Every business environment has an attitude, feeling or what most call a “culture”.  It is the role of the business owner to clearly articulate and define the culture that they want to exist in the business.  By defining these “non-negotiables”, the behaviors that will be required and those that will not be tolerated, the business owner will set the expectations for all current team members – and provide a standard from which to select future team members.

4. Setting Customer Engagement Standards.

How the business interacts with their customers is critical to differentiation.  It is the role of the business owner to define the uniqueness that they will deliver to their customers by defining the customer engagement standards for everyone on the business team.  Done well, this can set a business apart from all competitors in the experiences of their customers.

5. Determine Performance Metrics.

Knowing how to keep score is critical for business success.  Establishing the methods and measures for keeping score belongs to the business owner and should not be delegated.  While the tracking and posting of results can and should be delegated to others on the team, the business owner must set the rules and protocols related to measuring success.

Shaping the future of your company is critical for its survival. With a strong team in place that can take responsibility for ongoing activities and processes, you give yourself the mental space and time to focus on sustained success. Learning what you can and cannot delegate is a key challenge SBOs need to learn to overcome. But in the long term, you’ll find you grow into it — and transform your role from boss to leader in the process.


rich allen

Rich Allen helps create businesses with solid foundations, unique marketplace positions, reputable processes, high-performance team, and a visionary leader. Prior to becoming an advisor, Rich was VP HR with Texas Instruments then Division President/COO with Pella Corporation. Rich is a proud Rotarian and serves on several boards. His new book is “The Ultimate Business Tune Up: A Simple Yet Powerful Business Model That Will Transform the Lives of Small Business Owners“.

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