Delegating Without Breaking the Bank

by Marcia Layton Turner

Many business owners struggle with delegating work they are used to handling. The reality is that most business owners don’t delegate enough, even though holding on to non-essential tasks only stifles business growth. Delegating lower value tasks like administrative or clerical work frees you up to do the strategic thinking and business-critical work that only you can do.

The good news is that it doesn’t cost a fortune to get help, nor do you have to add employees. Here are eight resources to help you tackle small tasks on the cheap:

Virtual assistants. Emily Morgan, president and founder of Delegate Solutions works frequently with business owners who need ongoing technical and administrative support. By charging a flat hourly rate for her firm’s administrative support solutions, she says, there are no added costs like taxes and benefits to worry about, and remote virtual assistants use their own equipment. Some of Morgan’s clients report they have been able to increase revenues by as much as 40% by outsourcing their administrative tasks. If you have well-defined small tasks that are eating into your productivity, consider using Fiverr to find someone to do the work, at a cost of just $5. You might find someone to do data entry, for example, to create a small website icon, to post on social media, or to proofread a brief article. FancyHands, which Morgan likes, is a cross between a virtual assistant and a service like Fiverr, which handles individual projects. For as little as $25/month, you can have FancyHands take care of five tasks for you. You might ask them to schedule a meeting or call around to find a particular piece of equipment you need. TaskRabbit is similar to FancyHands in that it is task-based, but TaskRabbit is more household and errand-focused. So you might have a TaskRabbit worker pick up a new desk at IKEA and put it together for you or run the seven errands around town that you were going to have to spend this afternoon doing. It’s all about freeing up your time to work on your business. You set the price you’re willing to pay and service providers bid. The average cost to have someone do your grocery shopping is $35, for example. A handyman costs an average of $85. If your needs are more creative in nature, Upwork could be the place to look. Freelancers like writers, project managers, or website developers can be found here, waiting to bid on your project. You describe what you need done and freelancers quote their fees. You choose the freelancer that best suits your needs and your budget. Want more brainpower working on your behalf? HourlyNerd matches MBA students and alumni with businesses who need their help. You describe the project you need done and set a budget, based on an hourly rate of $10-$100/hour, and both MBAs and those in training on it. Morgan describes it as “matchmaking small biz owners with MBA students to consult on projects and business challenges for pennies compared to what you’d pay a consultant.” If you want advice from a leading business expert, check out Clarity, which charges by the minute for conversations with business gurus like Mark Cuban, who charges $166.67/minute for his time. If big-picture thinking and feedback is what you need, this is one service that can provide a one-time discussion to help you make important decisions. If a brand makeover is more what you need, 99Designs allows you to review proposed designs from professionals for as little as $299. You post a description of the type of business card, logo, or website you’re after, pay for access to designers, and they post proposed design solutions. You choose the winner and you're done.

Although many business owners jump to bring on college interns and part-time help as the solution to completing their long to-do list, Morgan cautions against hiring untrained workers. “They might be free or inexpensive, but the investment you have to make in training them may be higher than the output you receive,” she warns.

Using established services to connect you with experts in various tasks is more likely to yield a higher return on investment.

Related links:

About This Author

Marcia Layton Turner writes regularly about small business. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Entrepreneur, Bloomberg Businessweek and Black Enterprise, as well as at CNNMoney, Amex OPEN Forum, and


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