Leadership & Productivity

Working as a team – learn to delegate to achieve real business growth

6 min read

27 September 2017

Former special projects journalist

Michael Foote, founder of price comparison site Quote Goat, explains how to learn to delegate, a skill necessary for any business owner dreaming of scaling up.

Some small business owners want to shoulder all the responsibility themselves – it can be difficult handing over control. However, to achieve real growth, it’s important to learn to delegate.

Quote Goat is a price comparison website that initially began when founder Michael Foote decided to teach himself to code after leaving school. It wasn’t until a few years later it was branded Quote Goat, and the site was officially launched in 2014. Now, the business offers price comparisons for cars, ISAs, taxi insurance, energy providers and office insurance.

Foote is the managing director and focuses mainly on the company’s growth, which he does by developing new products, working on integrations and managing the suppliers to whom the business outsources.

The business is operated on an outsourcing model, which allows Foote to run the business with just two full-time staff.

With this streamlined approach, the business has reached the stage where it can develop its own comparison system.

“When you launch into the comparison industry, the quickest route to market (and sometimes the only one viable) is to adopt an affiliate model,” said Foote.

“We are now moving out of this stage and onto the next of having our own comparison system; which amongst numerous other benefits, allows us to retain customers and build a client base.”

For many small business owners, delegation and outsourcing work can be hard to do – having built a business from the ground up it can be hard to relinquish control. However, for any ambitious scale-up it is inevitable – so we asked Foote for his delegation top tips.

How did you learn to delegate?
 
Being unable to delegate is often the hurdle that stops a business from rapid expansion. The businesses that I have seen experience explosive growth all have a founder/MD that is able to delegate. It’s this realisation that has taught me to hand over responsibility where deserved. Although delegating doesn’t always work out, there are plenty of times when it has really helped our business.

Equally, sharing responsibility is a great motivator and confidence boost for those whom you work with, showing them you believe in their ability. 
  
How can you tell when someone can be relied upon to take on more responsibility?
 
Every person varies so it’s a matter of leadership ability to know when that person is ready to take on more responsibility. Having worked in a position of leadership as well as plenty of roles under a manager, it is frustrating and de-motivating for employees if they aren’t given more responsibility when it is deserved. This makes the task of delegation key to developing a positive working environment.
 
What factors contribute to a decision to outsource a service, rather than delegate to someone in-house?
 
Affordability is the main factor for us but I am sure it will vary from case to case. We assess whether it is financially worth outsourcing a service, thereby freeing up our time to focus on other areas, or whether our workload would currently allow for us to manage that service/area ourselves, leaving funding and resources for another area.
  
Social media can be quite time consuming and it is relatively inexpensive to outsource, so we made the decision to put internal resources elsewhere and appoint a company with a good track record to manage it for us.

When outsourcing we tend to approach three companies for quotes. We were particularly impressed with the suggestions from the company we appointed. The result is an effective social media marketing campaign that generates a positive return on investment, effectively an extension of the Quote Goat team without the overheads for additional office space or the associated risks with employment.
 
What would be your advice to small business owners struggling to give up some responsibility and delegate to others?
 
We have seen tremendous growth since we started to outsource/delegate work. I would suggest identifying areas that are currently not receiving enough focus due to a lack of internal resource and then assessing whether more focus on those areas would help your business. If yes, then surely delegating some responsibility is the way to go.

What are your plans for the next 12 months?
 
With the launch of our new comparison system due to happen in two months, our next stage is to create a process to look after and hopefully generate an ongoing relationship with our customers. Alongside this we plan to develop our other comparison solutions on the site to bring them in line with our car and van insurance comparison technology.

This article is part of a wider campaign called the Scale-up Hub, a section of Real Business that provides essential advice and inspiration on taking your business to the next level. It’s produced in association with webexpenses and webonboarding, a fast-growing global organisation that provides cloud-based software services that automate expenses management and streamline the employee onboarding process.