I’ve been thinking about delegating lately. Working freelance, I’m on my own quite a bit with my projects and if I come across something I haven’t done before, I quite enjoy learning how to do it. Usually.
There have been times when it seemed a concept was floating just out of grasp and handing it off to a specialist would have been such a relief. And so it dawned on me, slowly, in that way obvious ideas sometimes do, that I am allowed to delegate. That having a network of specialists must be an integral part of freelancing, yet somehow it is something I’ve never seriously considered. But now I am realizing how important it is to work together – it sounds so self-evident – both for the relief at being able to call in backup and also for the social aspect of collaboration, sharing ideas, putting actual working brains together to problem solve.
And of course I want to research this, so I ask you: When do you delegate? At what point do you say “enough!” and hand a project over to someone who already knows what they are doing and maybe even specializes in doing it? I’d really like to know!
I think I’ve avoided delegating a lot so far because I had an idea that if someone asks me to do something related to my field, I should be able to do it. And my field is broad and ever expanding as I find new interests, which means somehow I convinced myself I should be an expert at all the things; often things that other people do as a full time job. And the fact that there is no real way to be an expert in so many areas at once has been frustrating. So while developing a network of trusted collaborators is not easy and letting go of having full control over every aspect of a project is scary, the weight that lifts when I tell myself I don’t have to know everything is astounding. I didn’t know I was carrying it. There is an immense freedom in having some focus.
And as glaringly duh! as this all may sound, I really don’t think I am alone in this problem. There are industries built around convincing people they can take care of everything themselves, particularly as it relates to a small business and particularly as it relates to what I do with web and graphic design.
I see it a lot and I get it. If you are just starting your business selling handmade toys online, you know you need a website and business cards but you have a really small budget. So the obvious choice is a do it yourself system where you plug in your photos (which you took) and your copy (which you wrote) and your graphics and logo (which you designed). And maybe at some point you realize that all the time you are spending doing this part of your business – because it is time consuming – is taking away from time you could be actually doing the part you love (making the toys, in this case), but it also isn’t costing much up front and its an opportunity to learn new skills. It is a tough balance.
And, even being a designer, as much as I would like to work with small businesses on their projects, I do – clearly, see above – get it! But also, as I recognize the importance of collaboration and delegating in my own work to allow for focus in the places in which I am most interested and knowledgeable, I am feeling more validated in recommending my services to others. You can delegate to me and I will delegate to you and we can get to know each other in the meantime and new projects and ideas will arise… it’s all quite exciting!