How to Delegate – By John Stiernberg

March 14, 2011 by JohnStiernberg

MB 134 – MARCH 2011 – Last time we talked about carving out time to do strategic planning. You may think, “I barely have time to get to the gig, let alone run my business.” Time is your most precious commodity. In business, time can often seem “priceless,” meaning that it is tough to put a value on it. The answer to many mobile entertainers’ time crunch problem is delegation. How do I decide what to delegate and what to do myself? How can I justify paying other people for stuff that I do routinely? Can I afford to hire help? This article addresses these issues and recommends three action tips for success.


The ability to delegate is a business skill and a critical success factor for any business that wants to grow. Many business owners and managers think the word delegation means “telling other people to do my work for me.” Wrong!

Delegation is an executive skill. It is the TRANSFER OF AUTHORITY to do something, not just bossing someone around. When you ask your accountant to prepare an income statement or tax return, you are transferring the authority to complete the paperwork, subject to your final approval. Of course you pay the accountant’s fee, and rely on his or her expertise in terms of accuracy, legality, timeliness, and cost effectiveness for you. In addition to finance, other delegation opportunities include:

  • Sound, lights, and technical production (tech crew)
  • Sales (agent)
  • Marketing and promotion (publicist, webmaster, street team)
  • Vehicle maintenance (service technician)
  • Computer system upgrades and maintenance (computer tech, “Geek Squad”)
  • Order lunch, pick up dry cleaning, moral support (personal assistant)


Many mobile entertainers wait to delegate until they make too many mistakes and get burnt out on doing tasks that they don’t like. It’s easy to procrastinate or rationalize why not to delegate. Here are the top three myths or excuses:

Myth #1: I can’t afford to pay anyone other than myself. I’m still building the business. Maybe when we make more money I’ll be able to hire help.

Reality #1: This may be true for start-up one-person businesses, but only to a point. Your time as a mobile entertainer should be spent on booking, promoting, and performing, not on logistics, clerical work, and administrative tasks.

Myth #2: I’m the only one that can do the work. No one else shares my level of passion, ability, and commitment for my business.

Reality #2: Hmmm…Sorry to hear that you are the only one that believes in you and shares your vision. That’s a very limited view of your own potential. And I have yet to meet an entertainer of any kind that was equally good at performing, van repair, and balancing a checkbook (for example). There are always tasks that other people can do better than you can. And there are always people who are willing to work as team members to achieve a larger goal, like business success.

Myth #3: I need to keep my fingers on the pulse of my business. Doing everything myself keeps me in control.

Reality #3: There are ways to stay involved without having to do it all alone. Whether you are the sole proprietor who is a performer or a manager in a multi-rig firm, there is too much for one person to do in a growing business. The role of an owner/manager includes planning, organizing, motivating, and controlling (the Four Functions of Management). Management does not include doing other people’s jobs for them. As the business gets bigger and more complex, management itself becomes a full-time job.


For any mobile entertainment business, there are some jobs that can’t be delegated, especially the critically important stuff like music programming and performing. Almost everything else can be delegated to your team. Here are three suggestions for deciding what to delegate.

  • Action Tip 1. MAKE A LIST of all the tasks associated with running your business. These will end up fitting into categories such as 1) sales, 2) marketing, 3) finance, 4) operations, 5) technical services and production, and 6) performing.
  • Action Tip 2. DECIDE WHICH CATEGORY IS THE BEST FIT with your personal expertise. Rule of thumb: The activities that you are the best at add to your energy, rather than deplete it. You can’t wait to get up in the morning to do them. These are the activities to hold onto. Delegate the rest.
  • Action Tip 3: WRITE DOWN A DELEGATION PLAN. Make a list of the tasks that are the natural ones to delegate first. An Excel spreadsheet is a handy tool for such a list. Create columns for 1) What (each itemized task), 2) Who (candidates for doing the work), 3) How Much (estimated costs), 4) When (deadline to delegate), and Notes (any additional details that you want to capture for planning purposes).


Entrepreneurs—especially those in creative fields like mobile entertainment—need to finetune their delegation skills. It’s too easy to fall into the “do it all” trap, squandering your time and expertise.

Systematic implementation of the Action Tips is important: 1) list the tasks, 2) organize tasks by category and decide which ones to keep, and 3) draft a delegation plan with costs and time frames.

Next issue, we’ll talk in detail about this month’s Action Tip #2: deciding which roles and functions in your business are best for you and which ones to delegate or hire out. In the meantime, best wishes for success in mobile entertainment in 2011!

John Stiernberg is founder and principal consultant with the business development firm Stiernberg Consulting. John has over 25 years experience in the music and entertainment technology field, and currently works with audio manufacturers and others on strategic planning and market development. His book Succeeding In Music: Business Chops for Performers and Songwriters is published by Hal Leonard Books. Contact John via e-mail at, or find him on LinkedIn, Plaxo, and Facebook. Follow him at

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