How (+ What) to Start Delegating in Your Business

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When I first started my business (which wasn’t so long ago!), I was hesitant to hire help.

Would I find people who could do a better job than me?
(Oh hey, ego and perfectionism.)

What if they start to DEPEND on me for the income?
(Too much pressure! #commitmentphobe)

Wouldn’t it take longer to tell someone EXACTLY what I want than it would to just do it myself?
(Yes, but only at the start.)

I only offered one-on-ones for the first several months of my business (granted – there were hundreds of them), so I tricked myself into thinking I could swing it. All of it.

(Except for web development. I had no problem delegating that goodness right off the bat.)

Then the shift happened.

Toward the end of 2013, I read The Big Leap. I stepped up into create-and-launch-my-first-course mode.

And I finally realized that what “they” said was true:

By holding on to eeeevery unnecessary detail, I was getting in my own way (and burning myself out).

I also realized that if I wanted to meet my self-imposed, publicly declared deadlines, I needed help.

I’ve learned a LOT of dos and don’ts of delegation this year. Still have PLENTY to learn.

This post is my first baby step in sharing it with you.

If you’re also familiar with the “I’m-almost-convinced-but-not-sure-where-to-start” space, let me share exactly WHY and WHAT you may want to start delegating…soon.

In this video, you’ll learn:

  • Why you’re probably ready to delegate (even if you THINK you’re not)
  • My best excuses for sporting the “one-woman show” badge
  • The two must-read books -slash- philosophies that forever changed how I see (+ run) my business
  • What I do (and/or would LOVE to) delegate in my business – a handy starter’s guide if you’re short on ideas

Click below to watch (or take a listen):

Click here to watch directly on YouTube.


The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks
The E-Myth Revisited by Michael Gerber


You didn’t escape the 9-to-5 to work a 24/7. Don’t be a hero. (Tweet that!)

I understand the temptation to keep things as lean and simple as humanly possible.

But does wearing EVERY. single. hat really feel that simple? (Be honest.)

There’s a lot to consider when delegating – finding the right people at the right time for the right price – covering your financial and legal buns with the right forms + contracts, communicating clearly at every step…I’m learning more about those pieces by the DAY, and will happily share in future posts.

All I know for now is that we don’t have to do all (or any) of this alone.

Right this minute, there are thousands of people out there who would LOVE to be paid to do a great job at the VERY task you’ve been avoiding for months.

Where can you find ’em?

Ask for referrals from friends, colleagues (even your audience!).

Check with alumni associations, Facebook groups, oDesk + eLance, Fancy Hands, Task Rabbit (haven’t tried ’em, but I’ve heard good things).

Get creative!

Once you’re open to (+ expecting) it, you’ll find that quality support is EVERYWHERE.


I’ve been cheating a little bit.

To-date, most (but not all) of the independent contractors I’ve hired actually found ME first – they were clients, students, or active members of this bright community we’ve got here.

(That definitely made “finding” and trusting them easier than it would’ve been otherwise! I joke that in ACAC Study Hall we’ve got the butcher, the baker, and the candlestick maker…all needs can be addressed in-house ;))

I’m usually hiring in last-minute, I need help on this NOW mode, which is not ideal, and why I’m turning over a new leaf:


In the next week or two I will post an actual listing for my DREAM assistant – my new right-hand, ride-or-die homie who will be thrilled to serve as an external hard drive for my brain.

(I’ve had Category 5 resistance to sharing this. Because finding the right person is a big deal to me. See the P.P.S. if you think you may be her!)

Bottom line(s): We all need help. And it’s available. The sooner we can admit + act on that, the better off our businesses will be.


Get real and identify some tasks you can let goooo of. Soon.


Make a list of allllllll the things you would need to do to keep your business (and/or life) moving in the right direction.

For example, here’s a mega-list of things I do and/or would LOVE to eventually -okay immediately– delegate (in random as-it-comes-to-mind order):

  • Organize my desktop + files (using a magical combo of Dropbox + Evernote)
  • Schedule SOME (not all!) social media posts – I’d like to share a sprinkling of value at least once a day even if I’m feeling lazy and allergic to the internet
  • Create gorgeous Infusionsoft order forms
  • Set up hosting and installing WordPress on new sites
  • Build + code websites based on super-specific design and feedback
  • Edit videos
  • Upload videos (to YouTube and/or Vimeo)
  • Make an actual, natural effort with SEO – on blog and YouTube channel
  • Set up + USE useful reports from Google Analytics
  • Animate videos (like a sweet intro/outro)
  • Set up FB ad campaigns based on my creative
  • Obsess over FB ad stats to get the cost per lead waaaay down
  • Create (+ design) images I can use for cover photos, blog, social media shares
  • Create and update fillable PDFs in InDesign
  • Gather contracts, NDAs, W-9s (for U.S. contractors) and W8BENs (for international contractors)
  • Keep super-accurate books + financial reports
  • Stay on top of accounting (taxes)
  • Cover my legal buns (terms, contracts, disclaimers, trademark + copyright registration)
  • Respond to support emails + interview requests
  • Set up Infusionsoft campaigns + sequences
  • Seek + respond to great PR opportunities
  • Help me come up with fun ways to spoil my ACAC students
  • Send snail mail as needed
  • Repurpose and leverage existing content (i.e. turn an old blog post into a helpful PDF, old Q&A calls into new blog post ideas)
  • Use previous content to outline shells for guest posts I could write (I’ve done like two. Ever. #lazylistbuilding)
  • Document systems for all of the above
  • Research + vet potential hires
  • Set up google forms + surveys as needed
  • Train new contractors when they join the NEB, LLC party
  • Style photo shoots – from big brand stuff to Christmas cards
  • Design + direct my visual story
  • Optimize my YouTube channel
  • Clean (like REALLY clean) the house
  • Plan, shop for, and MAKE healthy dinners we will enjoy
  • Style my hair
  • Do my makeup
  • Shop for + thoughtfully choose my outfits
  • Recognize + shift blocks + limiting beliefs
  • Help me stay sane (serve as a sounding board, strategic advisor, biz therapist as needed)

(And I’m SURE I could think of more.)

While all of THAT is taken care of, I can spend as much designated “work” energy as possible in my zone(s):

  • Connect through creation (i.e. actually communicating via video, ideas, lessons, email, social media, interviews, client + dream student convos)
  • Tune in, dream up, and strategize for whatever comes next

Dreamy, right? What does YOURS look like? (Write it down!)


In the comments below, tell me (+ all the highly skilled people listening):


What are at least THREE SPECIFIC TASKS you’re ready to delegate in your business?

(And for bonus points: What else do you want to hear about on this topic?)

I know there’s a lot of “stuff” around all this. But it’s really important.


To letting it GO + playing in our zones of genius,


P.S. If you liked this post + want to help me spread the word by using the links below to share it with your buddies, I would greatly appreciate it! You can also subscribe to my YouTube channel if you’d like to see new videos before I’ve had time to turn them into blog posts ;)

P.P.S. If you’re a slightly perfectionistic, delightfully reliable word nerd (who specializes in the content creation, design, and curation items listed above), AND you’ve got plenty of room on your support-crazy-entrepreneurs plate, stay tuned for the listing + application. I’m in the market :)



  1. Kaye Putnam

    First of all, Nikki, you look gorgeous in this video! Love!

    I’m sloooowwwwlly letting go of my tasks to focus on what I’m the best at (brand and marketing strategy) at our agency. I literally have NO excuses because we have a team in place and the budget to hire contractors for client projects but sometimes it is so hard to A) let go (what if they don’t need me anymore?!) & B) extend timelines out enough to make time for that beginning handing-off process.

    Here’s my next 3:
    1) Someone to take my fab copywriter’s content and turn it into beautiful on-brand Unbounce landing pages
    2) Manage PPC/social/display ad campaigns
    3) I need a freaking digital housekeeper to clean up my files. How in the world do I make this happen?!


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Ummm YES, Kaye. USE. that. BUDGET! Ha!

      (And thank you!)

      On 3 – I know. Gotta find someone you trust – BIG TIME – make a chart of how you want the org to look, then probably upload everything to Dropbox so the changes can be made real-time without you needing to give up control of your computer.

      (The other day I procrastinated by clicking my squillions of screenshots and naming them so that one day when I have help with this, she can save sorting time. :))

    2. Karin

      Hi Nikki!

      Brilliant post and very valuable info. I have found an amazing assistant and thanks to your post I will now have a few more tasks to hand over to her :-) I’ve procrastinated for so long and now it’s time to take the leap and free up time to create more juicy and helpful stuff!

      Love from Zürich, Switzerland!

      1. Nikki Elledge Brown

        Yay good for YOU, Karin! I still haven’t finished writing the description for my dream VA. Seriously. Mega resistance. But it will happen SOON!

        Glad you took the leap :)

  2. Eleanor Beaton

    Hey Nikki,

    Great post..and I especially love the mongo-list you posted below the video of all the things you’d like to delegate in your business right now. I found a lot of things on that list that I too could totally start delegating. Very useful. Thanks girl.

    Eleanor Beaton

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Glad the mongo list was helpful, Eleanor – it was therapeutic to write!

  3. Heather

    I LOVED this post. Being a Virtual Assistant myself, I see SOOOOO many people not wanting to take the leap. After they do, they feel so much better.

    My day is a whole lot brighter when someone else has a day that is easier. I love what I do. There are so many of us out there. Go for a referral (or ask me ::winks::) if at all possible vs those Odesk, Elance services. If the rate per hour is too cheap, TRUST me that you get what you paid for.

    Take a peek at their testimonials, stalk them on social media and engage and see if they engage back. Ask questions and if they do what you need, THEY are THE ONE. It’s like finding a soul mate. You may need several, but VA’s network, so if I can’t do something I can find you someone who can.

    LOVED this! I hope a lot of people start breathing easier in 2015

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Yes, Heather – real-life testimonials are priceless. Especially when they come from people in your network (that you trust).

      Great point about multiple VAs – I’d like to limit the number of folks I bring in to the fold, but I do want to make sure everyone’s happy and as close to her zone as possible!

  4. Heather

    P.S. Nikki! You need to repurpose these rocking posts ( I’d love to help) plus there are TONS Of ways to make the most of these videos and such that you have!! Don’t waste it!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Seeee – even just knowing people like you are OUT there makes me feel better :) Thanks, Heather!

  5. Shannon

    Hi Nikki,
    I LOVE this blog post (especially since I’m a Virtual Assistant)! So many solopreneurs who are just starting their journey can easily feel overwhelmed by everything that goes into running a business! And those who are rockin’ their business and growing their client lists just don’t have time to sit in their inbox all day and give each email the time and attention they deserve!

    I completely agree with Heather that finding someone via referral is the best way to go. Or at least make sure they have testimonials up on their website from other happy clients.

    A Virtual Assistant who is also a business owner is ideal because they completely understand the importance of marketing, opt-ins, newsletters, social media, etc. Handing over your business details is a big deal and you want to find a VA who is a good match for you :)

    Partner in crime/business,

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Definitely, Shannon! Trust is huge. Thanks for doing what you do :)

  6. Emmy

    How MUCH did I need to see this post this morning, Nikki?

    Like, A LOT.

    I’ve been handling everything on my own not because I’m afraid of commitment, but I just wanted to keep my business lean and nimble while I’m still growing.

    HOWEVAH, in between client projects AND creating an online course, there is no more “in between”. I’ve even gone as far as writing down my delegation list, then doing absolutely nothing about it later.

    Thanks for the solid reminder. Definitely time to take building “my team” a bit more seriously, so I can have the freedom (and energy!) to grow my business the way I want to.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Totally get it, Emmy!

      Hiring the right folks to help me get ACAC out into the world has helped me be lean and nimble NOW. If I tried to do it all myself, I would’ve felt flat and heavy (? ha!)…and this year wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable.

      Good to remember it’s not like you’re committing to people for full-time, year-round support when they’re independent contractors. They can help give you a push for a season or be on-call whenever you need ’em!

  7. Kelly

    Thanks for the kick in the pants to KEEP moving forward on the delegating front. Having the legal in place first with those contractor agreements has given me way more comfort in seeking out what I need.

    I would love to delegate:
    *cleaning up my digital mess (I take screenshots like a boss and leave them laying around on the desktop…embarrassing!)
    *converting training/tutorial videos from youtube to vimeo (I just recently learned it is against YT terms of service to have them inside my courses…ooops)
    *branding/design of a NEW website… now that I have ACAC almost tackled….squeee!

    I’m also interested in more than one VA with specific zones of genius. I have learned my lesson thinking just ONE VA can do it all.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Didn’t know that about YouTube, Kelly! Makes sense.

      And I’m so with you on the screenshots o’ chaos. Just recently went through my “to file” folder on my desktop and actually named/labeled them. (I think at least one was name “ACAC Kelly [something lovely you said that I wanted to keep]” ;))

      Great point about multiple VAs really working in their zones. I think a good filter Q may be “Have you read The Big Leap? And you’re confident you’re offering what you LOVE to do + offer?”

  8. Lauren Caselli

    I totally agree that you should delegate to people who are better than you at stuff (and who are really good “second bananas”!) But I also know how hard it is to give up tiny pieces of control.

    I love blogging but right now, I love talking to clients more, so I’m running that fine line between “not having enough time to blog so I can be there for my clients” and “wanting to generate content so I can have more amazing clients that I really love!”

    Such a balance!

  9. Tamsen

    Love! And you were so speaking to me!

    As a confessed control freak … it is hard but there is nothing better than when I can get out of my own way and let someone else lead the way in the area that is well within THEIR zone of genius!

    Now to find someone who will come and do hair and make-up on video days … not my zone!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      It will be so fun when we find our hair + makeup someones for video days, Tamsen! I look forward to that day :)

  10. connie curtis

    Social media and developing my website. The website is taken care of. .. probably letting my accountant do my reciepts.. you know doing it all right. I am a stand my husband lets go of the little stuff. he doesnt want to pay money for someone to do it and I get it. I am a stand for both of us to do this. I havent had a paying client yet but I am not worried. I am in action and working on my mindshift which causes others to as well. The big leap sounds great. I am going to read it. I have so many books that sound good but cant read them all and I am working on being as relaxed and confident as you in the video. I love video and only do written guest blogs. I have written one. really excited..


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Congrats on the guest blog, Connie! And as for video – go for it. Whatever is most fun for you and can help show potential clients what your’e like is a WIN :)

  11. Marsha from


    Thank you so much. Lots I need to think about here. I think my problem is not being sure *what* I can delegate… but I think booking in meetings, and fiddling around with fonts and links on my weekly emails would be a start (I make my life harder by leaving little gifts for my mailing list people -like a secret message when you hover your mouse over any of the links I put in – and could DEFFO use some help putting that all together!


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      YES (yes)! Great idea. Then you can just focus on the fun part (dreaming up the surprises) and not waste a WINK on the techie stuff that doesn’t have to come from you. Love it :)

      1. Marsha from

        PS after I read this post, I emailed the local VA that had caught my eye an am now eagerly anticipating her response! THANK YOU – I’ve been sitting on that task for months!

  12. Sarah

    THIS is next on my list!! Thank you

  13. Kathryn

    THANK YOU! I’m going to make my list TODAY on what I’m going to delegate. Plus – I just downloaded The Big Leap. Keep kicking ass!

  14. Victoria Klein

    I love that this post is over 2 years old, but STILL 100% relevant. As a VA-turned-OBM, thank you for such a fantastic, info-filled video/post, Nikki :)

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