Image from Mary Engelbreit.
Is it just me, or do other small business owners have a hard time delegating, too? For many of the same reasons that I started piddix (I'm a perfectionist; I like to wear many hats), it's difficult to imagine bringing in someone else who would live up to the too-high standards I've set. Besides, it seems I would spend more time explaining to someone how to do a task (sending out orders, for example), than if I just did it myself. And what if they get it wrong? What if one of my customers isn't satisfied?
So if was with a bit of a knowing smirk that I listened to Mary Engelbreight--an artist who has been making a living with her art for 20+ years--talk about her first non-family-member employee:
"Finally I said I think I'm going to have to get some help to get all this done and we hired Stephanie (who is still my art director), and poor Stephanie sat there for three or four months. I wouldn't give her a single thing to do...I had this bizarre idea that I had to do every single bit of it myself. Of course, I got into it and figured out how to delegate and it was amazing."
I've had several people ask if they could intern with me, and it's always seemed a strange notion: why would anyone want to work with me just to learn? And for little (or no) money? What if they took all my secrets and ran? How much would they really help?
So with inspiration from the Engelbreit podcast, I decided to address my fears and hire an intern. I went out to lunch with my top pick, asked her a ton of questions, and came up with a plan and a clear understanding of what we both hope to receive from the internship (which I will put in writing). I'm creating weekly tasks and goals that we'll review during check-ins. I've even asked her to sign a non-compete and non-disclosure agreement, since sharing the secrets of how I track down my images was one of my many concerns about bringing someone in.
I'll be introducing the new intern here soon (stay tuned). And in the mean time, it's quite exciting to be working on a big ol' "hand off" list for the numerous items I need but haven't had a chance to do myself yet. I'll definitely let you know how the internship goes.