Entrepreneurs have at least one thing in common: the need to differentiate themselves from the competition by bringing better products, services, pricing and innovation to market. Time spent on strategic pursuits like these helps a business reach their next phase of growth. But strategic thinking requires wisely allocating your most valuable resource: your undivided time and attention. Successful leaders will therefore prioritize effective delegation to focus on higher level concerns.

Small and mid-sized business owners wear many hats for essential but non-core functions. Outsourcing smaller, time-consuming tasks can free up their time. However, the growing number of remote, fractional professionals with quality expertise and industry knowledge provide a greater opportunity to give ownership to more high-level tasks and create a stronger, streamlined foundation for growth.

Effective delegation challenges business leaders

There are a number of mental, financial and time-related reasons why leaders choose not to delegate more responsibilities to others.

  • It’s easier—and faster—to do it themselves.
  • They fear that the work won’t be done correctly.
  • They may not have enough in-house staff available to take on the tasks.
  • Training someone new may take too long.
  • It may be too expensive to hire more hands to take on the work.
  • They may not be aware of the additional value that someone else can bring to the task.

These concerns can create a real barrier for leaders who want to focus on growth but don’t have the right level of trust or resources to develop their team. Other leaders may simply enjoy doing these tasks themselves. But failure to delegate, or to do it effectively, can hurt the quality of goods and services, inhibit innovation and hamper employee morale and growth.

As you create a roadmap for the future, it’s crucial to make effective delegation itself a part of your business strategy.

The power of delegation and autonomy

Effective delegation frees your time to focus on your vision. It can also:

  • Improve processes
  • Enable employees’ professional growth
  • Build trust and communication with, and among, your team
  • Enhance morale and organizational structure

Research on the effects of empowering leadership (i.e., leadership that provides workers with autonomy and motivates them to leverage their knowledge and skills) shows that supportive leaders positively influence proactive work behavior and performance. Supportive leaders also positively influence job “embeddedness,” meaning that employees are more likely to stay.

In today’s growing freelance economy, providing autonomy is key to retaining in-house employees—but also to finding the top fractional workers who seek autonomy the most. When outsourcing tasks is the most effective route to grow sustainably and cost-effectively, you can still foster autonomy and support by trusting fractional professionals with ownership over key responsibilities. And extending that trust past simple task assignments can give those professionals, who seek meaningful projects on their own terms, to go above and beyond for you.

Assigning tasks vs. giving ownership

Effective delegation is not as easy as assigning a task. Assigning tasks will not empower your team to own those responsibilities, take initiative and go beyond.

Employees who don’t feel a sense of ownership over their roles can develop a comfortable but stagnant relationship with their employer. When companies enable their people to contribute excellent work output, everyone’s growth potential becomes limitless, regardless of their role. It is empowering and beneficial to all when people understand that everyone is essential to the company. In time, this change in perspective may improve every function.

Yet, how can you give ownership and authority to freelance or outsourced professionals who are not embedded into your business full time? That’s where effective delegation can be redefined in the future of work.

Is ownership necessarily just for full-time employees?

Depending on the circumstances and stage of growth, a business experiencing growing pains can benefit from an expert outsourced function or enhance their current in-house team.

Outsourcing talent can be an answer to many of the concerns that business leaders have when trying to delegate:

  • Highly skilled and experienced freelance professionals, not limited by geography or local availability, can provide industry and technical expertise that you can trust to do the job correctly.
  • With the right level of experience—and using the right platform—fractional experts can onboard quickly and hit the ground running with less required training, saving business leaders more time.
  • Outsourcing can be less expensive than hiring a full-time employee with benefits, or leaders can hire the talent on an interim basis when searching to fill a position.

As the freelance economy grows to include more knowledge workers and executive-level professionals, such as CFOs, there is also an increasing opportunity to delegate more high-level responsibilities and decision making. Businesses can now delegate responsibility for their budgeting, fundraising strategy and other major functions on both a short and long-term basis.

Redefining ownership with fractional experts: case studies

As a growth-platform for businesses and fractional experts, we’ve seen that exhibiting trust and empowering outside talent to take ownership can result in outcomes and growth beyond initial expectations. The following case studies demonstrate how seasoned professionals can successfully embrace ownership of roles where either a department doesn’t exist or enhance one that already does.

Interim controller takes initiative to develop growing startup’s accounting team

A consumer packaged goods (CPG) startup learned that their controller was leaving the job in just ten days. They were in need of an interim controller to temporarily take on the departing employee’s responsibilities, as well as analyze and update existing controls and procedures.

Our proprietary AI technology matched this client with the precise expertise they needed: someone with deep, direct experience and understanding of the industry’s nuances for a shorter learning curve and the ability to present solutions faster. Not only did the controller have the experience to get started right away, she also had unique ERP experience and management ability, which would prove beneficial as the company had long since outgrown their inventory tracking, analytic and reporting tools.

The controller initially came on to support the business while they sought another controller, but at her recommendation was able to promote and onboard additional accounting staff as the company continued to grow. She was also instrumental in the implementation of the company’s new ERP system. As a result, the short-term engagement evolved into a long-term role as leadership saw the value in delegating ownership of the projects.

Cloud-based learning platform weathers busy funding rounds with outsourced support

At an education tech company, the director of finance was stretched thin because of critical, dual draws on his time. One was the bustle of an ongoing round of funding, and the other was the preparation for the company’s first audit. In addition, the company had outgrown its current finance support team and needed someone familiar with hyper-growth companies who could understand their business quickly, take initiative and function independently to build out forecasts, budgets and other reports.

Paro carefully identified a controller whose background ideally matched the client. The fractional expert knew that the fast-growing company needed to see financial results on a tighter timeline and reworked the reporting function to make better, more effective decisions. The controller was able to keep day-to-day functions going despite a busy funding round. He also helped to onboard and train a senior accountant to provide continued reporting and guidance to leadership. With trust in the controller’s expertise, the company was able to prioritize their growth and fundraising efforts.

The power of delegation is within your reach

When considering an outsourcing provider, some of the questions you may want to keep in mind include:

  • Do they have a network of industry-specific professionals? A controller with a background in retail pharmacy will be of little value if your industry is wholesale fleet management.
  • Can they handle the range of your immediate and interim needs without doing it at the expense of your long-range goals?
  • How quickly can they step into your situation and get things rolling or prevent them from sinking further?

With Paro, you have a trusted resource that eliminates the guesswork involved in finding the ideal accounting and finance professionals for your specific immediate, interim and long-term needs. From basic bookkeeping to strategic advisory, you can free your resources and time by delegating finance functions from everyday transactions to ERP implementation or business roadmapping. Get a consultation to learn more about solutions available for each stage of your business.