Hey! This is Kris from KVM Design, an online firm that supports interior designers worldwide with their workload.
By outsourcing to our team, interior designers can free up some of their time to work on the key areas of their projects (such as spending more time on the design proposal and nurturing their clients), nail their deadlines without feeling overwhelmed, and take on more projects without working harder. As a result, they can scale their business and create the lifestyle that they want.
Delegating is not as easy as it sounds. It takes real management skills that we have to learn because, when we're used to working alone, it's very difficult to lose some of that control of doing everything and trusting someone else to do something for us that will have an impact on the entire project.
I hope that these nine principles help you get familiarized with the process of building a team, help you become a great manager and teach you how to delegate efficiently. They will become your base to build a sustainable and scalable business so refer to them as needed.
As always feel free to ask questions along the way. We offer free discovery calls to help you as an interior design business owner understand where you're at, where you want to go, and what is missing.
If outsourcing is right for you at this time, I can help you figure out what tasks you should keep to yourself - what your zone of genius is - and the tasks that you could delegate because you don't like doing them or you don't have the skills for.
01. BE CLEAR ON WHAT TASKS YOU WANT TO DELEGATE
It sounds very straightforward, but the way that I get clear on which tasks I want to delegate is by doing an elimination process.
I first brain dump all the tasks that need to get done in my business so that I have a full overview of everything.
Then, I figure out what tasks I really want to keep doing myself; they're part of my zone of genius, It's what I do best, I really love doing them and I think that it's my role as the CEO of my company to do them.
Circle them - you can do it whichever way works best for you - and then have a think about the tasks that you can automate. There are a lot of tasks that we tend to delegate to someone when a software could easily do them for us automatically (automation), which means saving a lot of time and money to pay someone else to do tasks that can be done by a computer.
If you have a CRM tool, you can look into tutorials on what you can automate. I'm happy to chat with you about it as well if you need some tips.
There are a few simple ones that you may not think about, but for example, email marketing or lead generation. If you have a form on your website, you can easily get prospects' contact details (email and name) and then automate an email that they will receive after they fill out the form, so you don't have to do everything manually.
You also want to see which ones can be eliminated. Are you doing a lot of things that you can easily do without? If it's a little bit difficult for you to understand this, from a brain dump, what I also do is to create workflows of my process from lead generation to project completion and then figure out which could be eliminated.
The next step is to look at all the tasks that are left and see which ones you cannot do, you don't like doing (you always try doing and you procrastinate) and the ones that you shouldn't be doing as a CEO. Maybe, they are very low value, they don't cost much to delegate to someone, and you just don't think that it's your role as a business owner to do them.
I want you to do this little exercise, it's probably the exercise that is going to take you the longest time, but it's the most important, because you're going to be able to figure out which task are for you to do, the ones that have a great potential for delegating, that you will be delegated to someone who has a lower hourly rate than yours, or that does something like marketing, that you will have to invest money in, but you know that it's the return on investment is going to be so much greater.
02. BE CLEAR ON WHAT ROLE YOU NEED TO DELEGATE TO
It sounds silly but, two years ago, I was sure that a VA was what I needed because everyone was hiring a VA and it turned out I spent a lot of money for her to do small tasks, but I wasn't quite clear on what it is that I really needed; what was going to have the biggest ROI, the biggest return on investment for my business, and I kept on spending the little budget that I had for tasks that were not really important in my business at the time to get to my 6-month goal.
When you sit down, understand which tasks are going to bring you the most return on investment. Do you need a VA? Do you need a design assistant? Do you need an accountant?
03. LOOK FOR THE RIGHT PERSON TO HIRE
Whether it's just a freelancer that you're going to hire a few hours per month, or a part-timer, or a full-timer, it doesn't matter -I guess you have to be clear on that- but there's something that I think is really important. A lot of people give up after the first try, they just try to hire someone and it doesn't work out. This person was not right for them and instead of trying to find the right person, they just think that delegating is not for them and they're better off doing everything on their own.
The reality is that you need people. You need more than one person to create a business that's going to be sustainable, profitable and scalable, you can’t do everything on your own if you still want to spend time with your family, be able to travel the world, and not work weekends and nights.
My advice is to stick with it; start small, maybe a few hours per week, you don't need to hire someone full-time right now.
Also, know what your budget is; you will want to hire people who have the skills you need AND who fit your budget.
Lastly, you want to find someone who is better than you at doing the task. Some people don’t feel comfortable giving up some of the control, especially to someone who is more skilled/ experienced than them. But, to grow your business, you have to get someone who is going to be better at doing specific tasks than you; all the people that I've hired they are better than me are doing specific things, and that's why I stick to my zone of genius and they stick to their zone of genius.
04. COMMUNICATE YOUR EXPECTATIONS CLEARLY
My new clients sometimes are not very clear about what it is that they need. And because they’re not sure what they're looking for, they send us feedback for work we did for them that doesn't match what they initially sent us.
Clear communication is number 1 when you delegate, even more so when it is done remotely. Particularly in the first few weeks/ months, this person/ team is still learning about your business, so you want to make sure that they fully understand what you are expecting of them, what the deliverables are for a specific time frame, availability needed, if you need flexibility.
05. SPEND TIME ON TRAINING AND ONBOARDING THIS PERSON
It's not because this person has skills that they will know how to work with you or within your company, they've known you for maybe a week, days or hours.
Remember that everybody has different ways of working. We work with designers all over The States, Canada, the UK, Europe and they all have specific ways they like their work done. Taking the time to onboard someone so they understand what you like, what you don't like, what you expect, how you like things to be done. They will not be able to guess and lack of clarity leads to disappointment. You could have the most skilled person in front of you, someone who could become one of your most important assets, if you on-board them the right way.
This is another mistake that I made in my first year in business; “too busy” to on-board. I was just expecting that this person would know what to do and I didn’t need to train them. This led to confusion, disappointment, and me wasting time hiring multiple people for the same role without getting what I needed.
06. DECIDE ON YOUR CHANNELS OF COMMUNICATION
Communication is going to be key especially if you're going to be working online. You want to make sure that they can come to you and ask questions if they need to.
I feel that emails are very hard to keep track of, they're very formal so you may want to decide on something that's a little bit informal, that makes them comfortable around you to ask questions if they're not sure about something.
I use Slack for my team and we love it! We always help each other, they ask questions if they need to and it just creates a nicer and more organized work environment.
Whatever it is, just decide on something that's going to be convenient for everyone.
07. DO NOT MICRO-MANAGE
Another one of my biggest mistakes: micro-managing everything and everyone.
It doesn't work! Remember that this person is the expert, not you, so if you micro-manage, you're not leaving them enough space to think for themselves, to prove to you that they're capable, that they can do the work.
Checking in is a normal part of being a manager. If you have just on-boarding them or are currently training them, you’ll want to make sure they are on track and going in the right direction. You, however, don’t need to check in every 5 minutes.
With my team, we generally check in a few times per day, in the morning being the most important, because we have to review all the on-going projects’ deadlines. I, and my operations manager, need to make sure that everybody knows what they're supposed to do on that day, answer any questions that they have and then I let them do their work. In the evening, we post the list of projects again so that they know 1. The status for the projects and 2. Review what they have to do the next day. Just decide on what works for you.
08. GIVE CONSTRUCTIVE FEEDBACK
It goes back to the micro-managing principle. Basically, do not fix any mistakes yourself; you need to let the person you hired know what they did wrong and tell them how to fix it, or tell them how you want it to be done, but let them fix the mistake.
A couple of years ago, I would just tell my VA: “this is not how I want it to be done, leave it, I will just do it.” What was the result?
She would redo the same mistake over and over again because I would not let her fix it. I would not explain how I did it, so I was basically paying for someone who was not improving, nor was she working to my standards because I was not letting her do it herself.
09. ALLOW ENOUGH TIME FOR A TASK
If this person is in the training phase, make sure that they have enough time to complete the task and not add time-pressure to the mix.
On the first call with soon-to-be clients, I tell them that they should not give us a deadline under 5 days on the first project they give us.
We first need to understand how you function, how you like your drawings set up, review your templates, and so on.
If we got started with a tight deadline, you most likely will end up feeling disappointed and go back to ‘doing it all by yourself’. On your side, it means that you will feel more relaxed knowing you can still ‘fix it’ if the team/ freelancer you picked wasn’t reliable.
Becoming a manager is a skill that you will have to learn.
It’s not easy to start delegating when you are used to working on your own. Be kind to yourself, go through the process slowly, methodically and try to enjoy it. With practice, you will learn how to work with others (and how to give feedback!)
Always remember that you will not grow a business by yourself (not much anyway), that there are amazing people out there who will want to grow this business with you, and once you find them, the results will be outstanding.
Something else to note as it could easily be the tenth principle. A lot of people could be really skilled but if they don't have the personality to join your team, then it's going to be really difficult to work with them.
If you have tried delegating before and it didn't work out for you, don't think that delegating isn't right for your business. You should not be doing everything on your own if you want to create the lifestyle that you want and the business that you want, because your business isn't going to be sustainable and scalable if you do everything by yourself.
Take it as a red flag if you have to tell prospects that you can’t take them on for another 6 months; they’ll end up working with someone who is better prepared than you. Delegating is going to help you focus on what you do best/ what you love doing, step up as a business owner and take on more projects (without working more), which means building a scalable business.
I have a lot of videos on this topic on my Youtube channel so head over there if you want to take your business to the next level!
See you next time!
Kristell Valentina Mouries
Director, KVM Design