Transcript: The Art of Delegation, and Why It’s the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

March 29, 2022

AMY PORTERFIELD: “Don't be tempted to redo something that you delegate that you aren't happy with. I was so guilty of this when I was first getting started. So, once I finally worked up the courage to delegate things, if it wasn't done right, I would just redo it and move on. Terrible leadership, and it accomplishes absolutely nothing for growing a team to support you. Not only does the task or project get put back on my plate and takes me out of my zone of genius, but the person I delegated to doesn't learn how to do it right or how to do it the way I want to do it. So you're robbing them of actually excelling in their position.” 

INTRO: I’m Amy Porterfield, ex-corporate girl turned CEO of a multi-seven-figure business. But it wasn't all that long ago that I lacked the confidence, the budget, and the time to focus on growing my small-but-mighty business. Fast forward past many failed attempts and lessons learned, and you'll see the business I have today, one that changes lives and gives me more freedom than I ever thought possible, one that used to only exist as a daydream. I created the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast to give you simple, actionable, step-by-step strategies to help you do the same. If you're an ambitious entrepreneur, or one in the making, who's looking to create a business that makes an impact and a life you love, you're in the right place, friend. Let's get started. 

AMY: If you're looking for a new podcast recommendation, listen up. Entrepreneurs on Fire, hosted by my dear friend John Lee Dumas, offers major inspiration and shares strategies to fire up your entrepreneurial journey and create the life you've always dreamed of. John's been a guest on my podcast many times, and he always delivers. On his podcast, he recently did an episode called “How to Design, Build, Launch, and Grow a Small Company,” and it was brilliant. I get asked questions about starting and growing a business all the time, and this was a great podcast to answer that question. Find more episodes like this by searching for Entrepreneurs on Fire wherever you get your podcasts. 

Well, hey, there, friend. Welcome back to Online Marketing Made Easy. I am so excited to be here with you today for this Shorty episode. Today we're talking about something that has been a big hurdle for me since becoming an entrepreneur thirteen years ago. And if you've been with me for a while, you might have an idea what it is. It's delegating.  

In my opinion, delegating is one of the hardest things to do as a small-business owner, because let's be real: your business is your baby. Can I get an amen? And you've created your business from scratch, nurtured it, grown it, and you've worked so hard to get it to the point where you can finally hire someone to support you. And then all of a sudden, you've got this incredibly talented new hire on your team, who's eager and enthusiastic about helping you grow your business. And what do you do? You start making excuses on why you can't delegate them some of the main projects you want to work on. It's quite the conundrum, right?  

But now that I've got it down, it probably won't surprise you that I get asked all the time about how I've managed to let go of some of the most important pieces of my business. And so in this episode, I'm going to answer a few of those questions.  

But before we get started, I have a question for you. Have you shared this podcast with a friend? Especially a friend who's just getting their business up and running and definitely needs to learn to delegate early on, please share this episode. Just grab the link, text it to them, send it to them on social, whatever you want to do, but I would greatly appreciate it. 

All right. So here we go with question number one that I get asked all the time. What was it like when you finally hired someone to help you? Was it nerve wracking passing the torch? And the answer is, heck, yeah, it was. It was so nerve wracking to pass the torch, I was so afraid that, one, I would do it wrong; and two—here's the thing I was most afraid of—number two was that I would lose touch with my business.  

A perfect example of this was delegating my Facebook ads. So here's how this went down. I used to have a digital course all about Facebook advertising. This was many, many years ago. And the reason I created this course was that for so long I did my own ads. It feels like a lifetime ago, but in the early days, I ran all of my own ads, all by myself. And because I taught Facebook marketing, I knew Facebook ads well. And so I did well with them and I thought, “Okay. This makes sense for me to create a course around this.” So I had this course, and then I ended up hiring an agency to run my ads. And so when I went back, like a year later, to update this ads course, I couldn't. Like, I couldn't create a course around ads when I wasn't in the trenches doing them. And so this was, like, a big alarm. Like, maybe I’m losing touch with my business; maybe I am not doing this right. 

But the thing was I truly didn't even want to create a course on ads. I felt like I should because at the time I was doing my own ads, I was doing well; at that season of my life, it made sense. But then when I had to go back to recreate or rerecord the course and update it, because ads change all the time, the story I told myself was, “I'm losing touch on my business. I don't know enough about ads anymore to teach them.” But the reality was I didn't want to teach ads anymore, and if I was being really honest with myself, I wanted to step away from that in my business and focus on what eventually became my signature course, was teaching people how to create courses and do webinars and launch.  

So sometimes when you tell yourself a story of, “I'm going to lose touch on my business,” or “This is bad for business. I need to be doing this,” there's probably something a little bit deeper that you need to look at.  

And also, one of the best decisions I ever made once I had money to do so, was letting go of doing my own ads so I could focus on the things I was really good at. I was good at doing ads, but I wasn't exceptional. I have other strengths that lend themselves to my business in bigger ways.  

So anyway, that was just this big realization. I ultimately stopped creating the ads course. And let me tell you it’s, again, like, the best thing that we could have done. But there was a story I was telling myself and it was incorrect. So be careful with the stories you tell yourself when you are giving up some of your responsibility to someone else on your team, because it's probably just that story. If it's not serving you well, it's just coming from fear. 

And I think one of the biggest lessons I learned from that is that when you're delegating, you have to, first, before you delegate, know your zone of genius. Where should you be spending time? Because when you're clear about where you should be spending time in your business, you also get crystal clear about where you should not be spending time. So for me, I should be spending time putting together big-picture strategies for our launches. That means things like a new workshop or a new boot camp or adding a different type of funnel to the business. These are things that I can strategize big picture and then work with my team to implement.  

In addition to that, I am constantly creating content, whether it be for my book, for webinars, for social media, inside of a course, whatever it might be. I do a lot of content creation, and I have a content-creation team, so they do a lot of it as well. But there's just some areas, like I said, for my book or for webinars that I like to really get in there and get my hands dirty.  

I'm also responsible for leading my team. We've got twenty full-time employees, and I'm ultimately responsible for everybody. So leadership is one of the biggest responsibilities I have, and that means making time for employees and really looking at what's going to serve them and support them, and so I have to have time to do that.  

So for me, my zone of genius and where I add the most value in my company is my leadership, my content creation, and then strategizing big picture. These are three main things that are in my zone of genius. If I’m clear about these, then it's easier for me to let go of the other things that aren't necessarily my zone of genius. So that’s one thing that I think I could help you out with immensely. When you're ready to delegate, first, get clear on where you should be spending time in your business.  

And there's one other thing to keep in mind here. Don't be tempted to redo something that you delegate that you aren't happy with. I was so guilty of this when I was first getting started. So, once I finally worked up the courage to delegate things, if it wasn't done right, I would just redo it and move on. Terrible leadership, and it accomplishes absolutely nothing for growing a team to support you. Not only does the task or project get put back on my plate and takes me out of my zone of genius, but the person I delegated to doesn't learn how to do it right or how to do it the way I want to do it. So you're robbing them of actually excelling in their position.  

I now communicate what I like and what I don't like. And I do not fix things for my employees. I go back and ask them to do so, even if it feels silly, like, “Ah, I could just fix this really quickly.” I just know that it's a bad habit that can become a really big bad habit if I don't nip it in the bud right away. So there you have it.  

Okay. So moving on to question number two, and that is, how did you overcome the “It'll be faster if I do it” mentality? Going back to number one, I will always have to do everything if I keep telling myself, “It will be faster if I do it,” and that is no way to grow, scale, or run a successful business. 

But here's the thing, and I learned this early on: there is no badge of honor doing it all on your own. If you're multitasking, come back to me. There is no badge of honor doing it all on your own. Let that sink in.  

When I look at really successful online businesses, like my peers that sell courses and memberships and coaching packages, the ones that are the most profitable and making the most impact, they all have teams, at least five full employees or more. So that's something to strive for, not necessarily something that you need to get at right away. Like, let's be careful here. I want you to be able to make money to invest money back into your business. But I believe that a team is essential to get you where you ultimately want to be.  

So here's the action item I want you to take. Do a quick inventory of the most-successful online businesses in your industry. Do they have support, a team behind them, even just a small team? I bet 100 percent of them do. So it's something to strive for, to work toward.  

And also, I will tell you, hiring your first employee is the scariest thing you'll probably ever do, and you'll have the thought, “What if I don't have enough money to pay them?” I think we all have had that thought. And it is the most important thing that you do. You've got to find the courage to do so. It is a game changer. And once you get the first employee out of the way, it becomes easier to grow. 

Question number three I get asked all the time, what lessons have you learned from letting go and letting people who you trust lead projects within your business? So I've mentioned this before, but Chloe was the first person that I let go and let loose, and she's been with me for seven years now, and there were definitely mistakes along the way. So she was my first hire, full-time hire, and I feel like it was a project manager, like some kind of project manager. Forgive me, Cho. I can't remember exactly your title. But the thing is, it was the first time that I said, “Okay. Go do this, and then come back, and we'll talk about it.” I had never done that before in that capacity with important projects.  

And she still jokes about the mistakes that she's made and how I had to call her on the phone and say, “Okay. So we need to talk about the fact that you just sent an email to two hundred fifty thousand people on my list, and that was supposed to go to a segmented list of fifteen thousand.” She still jokes about some of the big mistakes that were like, oh, shoot, that did not just happen. And in that moment, when that email went out to everybody—and it did not apply to everyone, so it was, like, “Ooh, yikes. This is a big mistake. My entire list shouldn't have seen that offer”—when that happened, there was a part of me that thought, “Okay. So I should probably send out all the emails.” But then I would always be tied to sending out all the emails. So sure, I could put precautions in place and make sure that we are covering our bases, maybe have someone triple check the work, but I can't just take it over. And that part’s important to remember. 

And guess what? We bounced back. From all the mistakes that were made, whether I made them, Cho made them, or anyone else on the team, we always bounce back, and we always usually get to a point that we laugh about it.  

I remember there's one story that if Cho's listening, she'll be like, “I know which one you're going to tell.” But when she was first starting, she was not used to working with a lot of contractors. And back in the day, when she's my first full-time employee, all we had was contractors. And there's this one contractor who missed a deadline and, you know, Cho's doing her work and doing it well, and she just comes down hard on this contractor, in a respectful way. She's always been respectful, but she said, “Look. We have deadlines. You got to meet these deadlines. I'd like to know what happened, and we need to correct this.” And it was just more of a stern conversation. And I read the email because I was cc’d on it, and I gave her a call, and I said, “So, working with contractors is a different beast than employees. We can't set the expectation that everything's going to get done exactly how we want to get it done.” And with contractors, you do have to have some wiggle room. It's just been my experience for many years of doing this. So I told her, “You got to pull back just a little bit. That was a little bit harsh.” And so, again, to this day, we still laugh about that email she sent to that contractor, that literally put them in their place, in a way that we probably didn't want to do so. So luckily, the contractor was not upset with us. But those are the things that you have to give feedback in the moment, right when you see it's done. Just give feedback right then. And I promise you, these are things you can laugh about later. 

Okay. So here's the kicker, though. When we think about delegating and letting go, you have to hire the right person for the role. Someone who will only make the same mistake once is literally golden. Now, that's something that, you know, how do you do that? It's not a science. I can't tell you exactly how to hire someone that once they make a mistake, they won't make it again. But do slow down in your hiring—that's a big lesson I've learned along the way—because when you slow down and you take the time to learn what that person is like, what makes them tick, how they're going to show up, that you can start to look into, like, if this person messes up, how are they going to bounce back? And you can ask questions about their experience of bouncing back. But slow down in that hiring to make sure you really understand the person that you're going to bring on your team.  

And that first person that you hire and you actually give real projects to and you let go, they pave the way for the rest of your team building. So you get that first one right—or maybe not, and you got to try again—but once you get it right, believe me, it gets easier.  

And what's great is that now that I had that experience with Cho and so many other people on my team, I am able to easily let go. Take this podcast for instance. My podcast producer, Kai, comes up with so many of the ideas for this podcast, where once upon a time, I was the only one coming up with the ideas of what we want to talk about. But because I’ve given her the reins and because I know she's searching and looking and paying attention to your reviews and your comments and the questions you ask, I know she's going to nail these topics, and she really has. Our podcast has skyrocketed over the last few years, and Kai’s a huge part of that. So I'm so glad it's not just me coming up with every idea for the podcast anymore. That is a very freeing feeling as a business owner. 

Okay. Moving on to the last question I get asked often, and this is a big one, what are some of your best tips for newer entrepreneurs who are just getting started to hire, struggling to pass the torch, and give up some control? So what tips do I have? Well, my biggest tip here would be to read the book Radical Candor. Seriously. If you haven't read it, I don't care where you are in your entrepreneurial journey, everyone should read the book Radical Candor. Pause this episode right now. Go get it in your Amazon cart. It's that important. I'm going to link to it in the show notes.  

The book will teach you how to communicate what you like and what you don't like, how to lead a team, how to become a better leader and a better communicator, and when you put that into action, you'll find that you can absolutely pass the torch when you're willing to have those candid, somewhat difficult conversations. So Radical Candor helped me to realize that when I do pass the torch and things don't go as planned, I have the ability to communicate in a way so that it doesn't happen again. So if you're looking for that courage or confidence to speak up and ask for what you want and communicate it properly, while empowering your team members, get the book Radical Candor 

I mean, ultimately, when something goes wrong, you're going to know how to communicate to your team without demoralizing anybody and instead encouraging them to grow and step up and do better. It's so worth it when you have those skills. It makes things a whole lot easier as a leader. 

Okay. I want to let you in on a little secret. Delegating was terrifying for me right away, but if I'm being 100 percent honest, delegating has forced me to create stellar systems in my business. And then creating those systems were the biggest needle movers when it came to creating less overwhelm in my business and moving me to a four-day work week, me and my entire team to a four-day work week. So for me, proper delegation led to better systems. And I think that was one of the absolute best things that came from learning to build a team.  

Before I started delegating and building my team, I always felt like I was fighting the clock and needing just a few more hours in the day. And then that meant that the few more hours in the day, they didn't come, so now I was working Saturday and Sunday, and it pulled me away from my family and loved ones.  

And here's the thing: you know me. You know that I always try to go first and then figure out the best possible way to do anything as an entrepreneur and then teach it to you so you can achieve success and ease so much quicker than I did.  

So I actually created a masterclass. It's called “How I Overcame Busy Business Overwhelm and Transitioned My Team to a Four-Day Work Week.” And in that masterclass, I teach you the three super-simple systems that I put into place to cut overwhelm and step into a business that I actually love. So I’m sharing in that masterclass how I moved my team to a four-day work week through delegating and systems. So if you're loving this episode, you're going to love the free masterclass. Just go to So And you can jump on that free training because it really is the next move closer to embracing delegating with ease. 

Also, I don’t have a free resource for this episode. However, if you show up for that free masterclass—you actually show up live for it—I have a special bonus, and it's a startup and shutdown ritual guide, and I swear by it. So one of the things that helps me stay clear throughout my day is I start my business day a certain way and I shut down my business day a certain way, and I'm going to give you that ritual guide. All you have to do is show up for the masterclass. So 

All right. So I hope you loved this Shorty episode, and I hope you found it valuable. If you haven't done so already, make it your goal this year to hire your first employee. Whether they're a contractor or a full-time employee, I'm just talking about hiring someone who you can delegate to and trust on a regular basis. And if you've already done that, think about expanding the team. Where is your zone of genius, and what can you delegate? Everything else is what you delegate.  

All right, my friends. If you found this episode valuable, please make sure you share it with a friend. And also, make sure to hit Follow for the Online Marketing Made Easy podcast on your favorite listening platform, and leave a review. I literally love to read those, so I’d love to hear from you. 

All right. So I’ll see you on Thursday for more entrepreneurial goodness, same time, same place. See you soon. 

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