I have one top tip for small businesses (and micro-ones and large ones):

Learn how to DELEGATE really well at an early stage

Gail Thomas - Mastering the art of successful delegation

Small business people tend to be able to turn their hand to most things – a distinct benefit given the multiple skills needed to navigate the development, launch, operation, red tape, governance and marketing involved in small business ownership.

Most business owners, whether sole-traders or larger have a knowledge around developing a product and service, that fits its intended market, they know how to price it, present it, sell it, run the operation to support it and understand the financial performance required to define its success. An impressive array of skills and knowledge in anyone’s book.

But a polymath can also fall foul of such talents. I call it over-capability, and in business it can lead to an inability to prioritise, lack of focus and ultimately burnout and/or business failure.


Why is the biggest question when it comes to delegation (over how to). And there are ultimately two answers:

  • Value
  • Benefits

The benefits of delegation are pretty obvious, if by definition delegation is the reduction of one’s workload, it ergo frees up time. How that time is spent becomes the inherent benefit, whether it is holidays, gym, children or hobbies that result.

Knowing what you expect to get from extra time (and peace of mind) that results from effective delegation is a way of establishing the habit and reinforcing the discipline.

By value I’m talking about cold coin of the realm, commercial gain, money. Value from delegation is gained in two ways:

  • Business growth – if you’ve more time, you’ve more time to focus on all the things that make businesses grow: product development, marketing, sales, process improvement, organisation etc. Freed up time is a huge boost to creativity which underpins new routes to growth.
  • Business value – if you’re thinking of your business exit, and you should be, right from day 1, even if it ends when you do, then the value of your business increases the less it depends on you. This is because it is more resilient in the market place, can more likely be scaled and has scope for use of new ideas and resource.


If ever there was a place to apply the ‘do unto others as you would have done to you’ rule, this is it. Often the process of delegation starts with the people available to help. I believe it should start with WHAT would be best to delegate. In short this should be the things that you dislike doing the most and the things that are truly least dependent on you.

Then decide how long all of that might take and who might be best to take it on (preferably someone who loves it and it good at it and understands why it’s important, when it’s important and what the required standard is around is completion).

How good would that be? There’s so much more to say on this topic but I’m out of word count. Perhaps check out the book The Gift of Time, available here:

The Gift of Time: How Delegation Can Give You Space to Succeed

Gail Thomas

Gail Thomas is delegation expert, author, speaker, consultant, trainer and founder of Virtual PA Co.

Following Senior roles at Thomas Cook and Boots the Chemist and a board directorship at Whittard of Chelsea, She took the plunge and launched her first business at 31 years of age. It’s the only one She still owns. Virtual PA Co.

Follow Gail on Twitter: @_GailThomas

Visit Gail’s official page: www.gailthomas.co.uk

Virtual PA Co.: www.virtualpa.co.uk



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