When Matthew Levey launched his all-natural beef-jerky company in 2010, he and his two co-founders rode their bike to as many New York City grocery stores as they could to conduct in-store demos and sign up new accounts. After signing up 60 stores in the first month, the three realized that the strategy was neither sustainable nor scalable.
“We knew we needed to do demos to create awareness and promote our brand,” says Levey, who run Brooklyn-based Field Trip Beef Jerky with Tom Donigan and Scott Fiesinger. “But we also knew we couldn’t spend five hours a day passing out samples and still grow our business.”
The entrepreneurs hired a sampling team to market their products in stores, a move that has helped their business expand steadily. Today, Field Trip products are sold in more than 5,000 retail locations nationwide.
“Even though it was a very important part of our business, delegating that job to someone else freed up our time so we could focus on growth and building our bottom line,” Levey says.
We’ve all heard startup founders describe themselves as “chief cook and bottle washer.” But while multitasking may be necessary in the earliest days of a venture, it’s important to know when to let go of nonessential tasks so you can focus on the areas that are necessary to build your business.
Here are four types of tasks you should be delegating in order to propel your startup forward in the most efficient way.
- Tasks That Keep You from Growing Your Business
When Levey and his team realized that the hours they spent on a bike en route to product samplings were not enabling them to scale to a nationwide platform, they hired a demo team. “Getting customer to trial something is important, but we also realized it wasn’t a good use of our time, because it wasn’t conducive to our long-term growth,” he says.
Independent contractors were brought on to handle sampling and inform customers about the products’ nutritional facts; that freed Field Trip’s founders to pursue new accounts, which today include several major grocery chains, as well as JetBlule Airways, Vitamins World and Costco.
- Activities that will help speed up cash flow
As a small company represented in huge grocery stores with more than 50,000 SKUS, Field Trip found that its relatively modest invoices often would get overlooked. “Checks for $100 get lost against $10,000 checks pretty easily, so we were hounding stores just to get paid,” Levey explains.
The founders discovered that hiring distributors not only got them paid faster, it also enabled them to get paid with a few large checks rather than many small ones. The company now employs more than 25 distributors.
“By delegating that work to distributors, our accounts receivable has significantly improved, as much has the timing of our working capital,” he says. “We’re getting our money, and we’re also getting checks that were previously going unpaid because we didn’t have time to follow up on them.”
- Areas That Are Out of Your Wheelhouse
Ryan Fleming, co-founder of Long Beach, California based RemindGrams.com, delegates tasks that would require too much time for him to learn and master. That is one of the factors to which he credits the success of his 24/7 concierge service, which keeps a virtual eye on the well-being of loved ones.
Fleming has turned to services such as Elance and Fiverr to outsource web design, creation of video and web content, SEO, social media activities and PR. “THE SEO stuff is well over my head, but when you have someone who can help you understand how the Google algorithm works, it’s a game-changer,” Fleming says, adding that he attributes many of his company’s 400-plus users to the success of the keyword
“RemindGrams.” “It would take me about five years to create [animation] online, so delegating out those types of digital assets is a no-brainer for me. It definitely pays for itself.”
- Tasks That Are Already Streamlined
Hard work goes into developing processes that allow employees to increase their efficiency while still meeting in-house quality metrics. But once those processes are in place, there’s no reason to be the person who implements them on a day-to-day basis. After launching Venice, Calif.-based online inventory and order-management software Lettuce in 2012, CEO Raad Mobrem saw his staff expand from two people who did everything to 13 within three months.
While exciting, the period was fraught with organizational headaches and growing pains. So he divided the company into sales, marketing, customer support and product. In each of those areas, processes were put in place so managers could easily delegate task when needed.
“When something needs to be done, we can walk an employee through our current processes and say, ‘here’s what we like to do, and this is how we do it.’ Its’s a clear path of where we’re going and how we do things,” Mobrem says, noting that Lettuce now has 15 employees and thousands of users. “As a result, we went from chaos to really well-delegated processes and task that everyone is able to complete in a timely manner.”
5. Accounting and Bookkeping
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-by Paula Andruss