Too Many Hats: Tips for Lightening Your Workload

As a landscape business owner, chances are good you shoulder most of the burdens that come with the territory. Sales, bookkeeping, scheduling, purchasing, and the myriad other tasks that need to get done to keep your business up and running. You may not even realize the number of “hats” you wear every day. However, it’s important to recognize that you can’t do everything yourself – not if you want your business to grow. Trying to do too much is overwhelming and counterproductive. To grow your business, you have to be able to focus on it, and that means delegating some of the tasks that you’ve been doing yourself.

Here are 4 tips for giving away some of the “hats” you wear so you can avoid getting overwhelmed and focus on your company’s success and growth:

1. Define and list all the “hats” that you wear

Take a minute (well, okay, probably several minutes…) to think about every specific task you do and write them all down. Do you schedule all the work? Write it down. Do you do all the invoicing? Write that down, too. Keep going until you’ve identified every job, then estimate the time you put into each one and how often they’re done (Daily? Weekly? Monthly?). Determine which ones provide the most value to your internal operation and which ones add the most value for clients.

2. Evaluate and prioritize your list

Got everything written down? Good. Now figure out which of these tasks MUST be done by you because of some special knowledge, skill, or experience you have (“you” tasks) and how many tasks can be done by someone else in your company, or by a third party (“non-you” tasks).

3. Determine how the “non-you” tasks can be delegated

Now that you’ve determined which tasks you MUST do, it’s time to figure out how you can distribute the “non-you” tasks. Can others within your organization do any or all of them? Do you need to hire outside help such as an accountant or bookkeeper? Be sure to do this without regard to revenue. Tasks delegated to individuals who can do them efficiently and effectively may not be direct revenue generators, but they may be essential for building and maintaining your business, which is just as important. And let’s not forget, if you’ve freed up time by delegating “non-you” tasks, that means you’ve gained more time to generate more revenue!

4. Go ahead and delegate

Now it’s time to start handing out all those “hats” and reap the benefits of delegating. By spreading responsibilities around you’ll discover how much more efficient things can be when a few people are getting more done, instead of one person (you) trying to get everything done yourself.

To make things easier, start by handing out tasks that you’re not particularly skilled at (your areas of least competence; tasks you know about but don’t do because you can’t or simply won’t), then the tasks at which you’re competent but don’t have the time or interest in doing them (“knows how”). Finally, give away tasks at which you’re highly competent (“shows how”) and may enjoy doing (“does”), but probably shouldn’t so you can focus on other, more critical tasks for growing your business.

Zones of Competence

  • Knows: Tasks that you know about, but don’t do, either willingly or unwillingly (incompetent)  
  • Knows How: Tasks you know how to do and may do, willingly or unwillingly
  • Shows How: Tasks you know well enough to teach others how to do them
  • Does: Tasks at which you are highly competent and do on a regular basis

As you begin to delegate, remember – just because you’re “giving away” tasks doesn’t mean they’re not important or that you’re not going to pay attention to them. Just the opposite is true – you’re giving them away so someone else can do them better. However, be sure to check in regularly and put metrics in place so that you can measure the success of these delegated tasks. You not only want to know they’re being done, you want to know they’re being done correctly and in a timely fashion.

New Call-to-actionWith over 30 years of experience in the horticultural and landscaping industry, I’ve made plenty of mistakes and had my share of successes, too. Truth be told, when I realized I had to start giving away some of the hats I was wearing as a business owner, it was hard because I am by nature managerial and highly organized. When it came time to stop being office manager on top of everything else, I had trouble letting go because I was excellent at it. But it was something I should not have been doing. I needed to focus on other aspects of the business so I could grow it, such as developing my sales and marketing skills.

I ended up going through several hires as I learned what was truly needed to run the business. It was a scary period, but I finally found the right person whose zone of excellence was managing a busy office with unique requirements and responsibilities. It took a little trial-and-error, but the end result more than made up for the effort. I now enjoy the support of an ace in my office. She supports me and the business so I can focus fully on growing my business. Oh, and we meet EVERY week.

So if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed at times, that’s a sign that it’s time to start giving away some of those “hats” you’ve been wearing. Just do it one hat at a time. You’ll be amazed at how it gets easier with each hat you hand off and at the positive effect it’ll have on you and your business.

You can’t do everything yourself – not if you want your business to grow.

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