When Bill Gates says things like, “I never took a day off in my twenties, not one” it’s easy to believe that hard work is the only path to success. No one denies the importance of hard work, and our entrepreneurial culture champions a fantastic work ethic. However, as more and more highly successful people share their ‘early-days/start-up stories’, and re-emphasise the value of hard work, it’s important to remember the power of delegation. No, delegating tasks does not mean you’re lazy. or not working hard. In fact, it’s the sign of smart leadership. Not only will delegating save you a lot of time and extra stress, it is crucial to maintaining the success of your business.

As the Director of Agent99 PR, I have learnt the importance of delegating over the last eight years. Not only does it increase the overall efficiency of the firm, but it strengthens the relationships that you have with your staff. Delegating has helped me to build the company into what it is today, with an amazing team of loyal staff who continually provide great results for an enviable list of local and global brands.

For many small business owners learning the art of delegating doesn’t come easily. However, understanding how it can be beneficial to both you and your firm will help you loosen your grip and allow you to become a more effective leader. Here are my top reasons why delegating is the best thing you can do for your business:

1. Allows you to focus on more strategic activities

“Make every detail perfect and limit the number of details to perfect.” – Jack Dorsey, Twitter co-founder

Not only do you have to focus on the tasks at hand as a business owner, but more importantly, you have to think strategically about how you envision your company in the future. Regardless of where it currently sits in the business life cycle, there is always room for improvement. As the owner, you are responsible for setting the direction that you would like your company to progress in. Stepping back and giving your employees the opportunity to take on some extra responsibilities is a great way of freeing some time that you can use to focus on your business as a whole.

2. Give your staff the opportunity to develop other skills

“As much as you need a strong personality to build a business from scratch, you also must understand the art of delegation. I have to be good at helping people run the individual businesses, and I have to be willing to step back. The company must be set up so it can continue without me.” – Richard Branson, CEO and founder of Virgin Group.

Delegating tasks will give your staff the opportunity to expand their skill set beyond the bounds of what they do on a daily basis. The biggest challenge is often giving them the space to go off and complete the task in a way that works best for them. If you’re going to micromanage their every move then you may as well do it yourself. Allowing your employees to develop new skills in a way that works for them will be mutually beneficial for the both of you in the long run.

3. Great teamwork experience

“No matter how brilliant your mind or strategy, if you’re playing a solo game, you’ll always lose out to a team.” – Reid Hoffman, LinkedIn co-founder.

While it may sound surprising, delegating can help foster and improve business morale.

The sharing of responsibility within a business often creates a more productive, experienced and therefore confident team environment.

Need I say more? Letting your team get their hands dirty sends a clear message that you have faith in their abilities and value their skills.

4.You can’t do everything yourself

“The inability to delegate is one of the biggest problems I see with managers at all levels.” – John Maxwell, 65th Wealthiest Person 2015

Although many business owners don’t like to admit it, you simply can’t do everything yourself. The reason why you hired staff in the first place was probably because you needed others to support you in reaching the goals for the firm. It’s common knowledge that most small business owners start up with every responsibility on their shoulders. However, once the business is up and running and you have a team of staff – you need to use them.

5. Productivity

"It's not the tools you have faith in – tools are just tools – they work or they don't work. It's the people you have faith in or not." – Steve Jobs, Apple Inc. co-founder, chairman, and CEO

One of the best ways to boost productivity within a firm without adding the extra costs of another employee is to optimise the output of your existing staff. Can your existing team share the responsibilities that you are looking to delegate? If they can, then there really is no need to hire someone else. While this will mean that each employee has to prioritise their tasks more effectively, analysing the role of each employee and delegating tasks that fit in with what they do on a daily basis is a great way of boosting overall productivity and efficiency.