LearnStop Doing and Start Delegating


writes on June 1, 2007

I had a good look at my to-do list the other day and it hit me, I was still working primarily in the business, instead of on the business.

As you all know, it’s vital that the leader of a company (CEO, Director, Founder, whatever) is thinking about the direction of the company and is actively planning and thinking about the future. If that person gets bogged down in actually doing the day-to-day activities, then it becomes impossible to do that.

A few examples

Here are a few things that I realised I was getting bogged down with that really should be done by someone else:

  1. Payroll, dividend vouchers and pensions – I finally decided to delegate this to Mo, our extremely talented book keeper. It’s a task that naturally fits into her skill set and it’s something that takes a fair bit of my time at the end of every month.
  2. Data collection for analysis – Occasionally we do some research on our competitors, which can be quite time consuming. As I blogged about, I’ve now gotten a very capable virtual assistant who I delegate this to.
  3. Marketing our events – Lisa has now become the Marketing Manager at Carson Systems. She is in charge of marketing across all of our products and events.
  4. Making coffee … Just kidding, I’m still the coffee boy around here 🙂

Management by Delegation, not Abdication

So am I just saying that you should be delegating the time-consuming, boring stuff? Definitely not. You should be delegating everything (at least eventually).

As a business owner, you should remember that eventually, everything will be done by other people. This is the only way to truly realise the value of running your own company and the financial benefits of selling it someday. However, in order to get there, you need to train your team properly and then hand over responsibility.

Michael E Gerber, author of The Emyth Revisited, coined the phrase “Management by Delegation, not Abdication”, and it’s a powerful concept.

Management by Abdication says: “I don’t care how you get it done, just do it.”

Management by Delegation says: “Let me teach you how we do this here, and then you can have complete responsibility for it.”

The latter example ensures that the quality of service and products are preserved, whilst freeing you up to focus on running the company.


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0 Responses to “Stop Doing and Start Delegating”

  1. It’s the biggest submit button I have ever seen!

  2. For anyone interested in learning about how VAs work and can help your business in ways you never imagined, check out a book called “The Obsolete Employee, How Businesses Succeed Without Employees – And Love it!” by Michael Russer (www.theobsoleteemployee.com). The foreword was written by Michael Gerber and is one of the most powerful endorsements of a book I’ve ever seen! This book will open your eyes to an whole bunch of possibilities for your business – and it gives some great insights to VAs too.

  3. Ryan – you should check out Keith Cunningham’s stuff on Business Growth:


    It’s got some great stuff in it I think.

  4. If people need some ideas on what to delegate to Virtual Assistants, I started a brainstorming list — customer service, editorial, web maintenance, research, reminders… the little and big stuff to deal with the day-to-day. Got anything to add? Feel free to visit: http://MayaAndMarketability.com/use-your-virtual-assistant/

    Thanks for the post. We all need to remind ourselves, “We should be working on our businesses, not in them.”

  5. That is exactly right. We should be working on our businesses, not in them. Nail on the head. – Chris

  6. Right, as Michael Gerber says, working on the business, not working in the business. Delegation could help, but even CEO wouldn’t delegate everything, he still need to do what he is required to do.

    @Jim: Don’t worry, it is just the part of the effect from reading the book The Four-Hour Workweek. 😉 I have read the book as well and interviewed the author Tim Ferriss – some of his ideas are pretty provoking.

  7. EMyth is an excellent book 🙂 I read that book last year and was able to boost productivity like anything! The story that inspired me was the Hotel manager and the way he managed his whole business. Great book!!

  8. Hey Ryan, here’s your coffee:

    I couldn’t email it as I don’t have your email but this way everyone else gets to enjoy a coffee too!

    So good to see people talking about their VAs and how life has been made easier for them. I have been operating for over 13 years now and my main client base consists of business coaches, public speakers and trainers, all of whom know and enjoy the benefits of having virtual assistant support and they also let others know about us too. Good thing for me I have a back up VA team of my own – there’s no way I could provide the same service to everyone I come in contact with!

    Re Michael Gerber – he has some really great information for all entrepreneurs and I was very fortunate to meet him many years ago when he was in Australia just as the internet was raising its head here for business so it must have been around 1995/96. I spent the day with him whilst we worked on the filming for a TV show that was really before its time – about people who work at home.

  9. shooperman on June 2, 2007 at 3:16 am said:

    I definitely agree with you on management by delegation, it’s a big leap for small business owners like ourselves.

    I did just that earlier this year but let me tell you this – “every time you try to get out, they get you back!” It takes time for the delegated to take on the responsibility.

    Enjoy the ride, Ryan!

  10. “As you all know, it’s vital that the leader of a company (CEO, Director, Founder, whatever) is thinking about the direction of the company and is actively planning and thinking about the future.”

    While this is certainly true, don’t you think you are getting a little ahead of yourself here? In all of your recent posts you’ve sounded like you run a Fortune 500 company. Honestly this whole “Life of a CEO” bit is a little annoying…who calls themselves a CEO in a small business?

    At your stage in development (paying your personal bills is a sizable percentage of your company’s expenses), you can’t just delegate everything and dream.

  11. Gustav Mörtberg on June 1, 2007 at 8:55 pm said:

    I’ve been searching for some way to contact you, but i haven’t even found your email on this blog.

    Do you think that you could shoot a mail, i got a few questions for you that would make my day if you could take a few minutes to answer. 🙂

    Thanks, Gustav.

  12. I couldn’t agree more… this is one of the biggest lessons learned from running my first business. We didn’t delegate near as effectively (or often) as we should.

    I’m just about to launch our second “go” at it, so we finally have another opportunity to put those lessons to work!

  13. Lisa C. on June 1, 2007 at 4:59 pm said:

    Excellent! I own a virtual assistant firm. Ryan, now if only I could have a coffee boy! Your points are valuable! Keep up the good work, or eh…. at least keep up the good delegating.

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