By Daniel Hunter

Small business owners are caught in a difficult conundrum: while they know that marketing is a critical component of business growth, many admit to devoting too much time to it as they don’t have the right marketing skills or experience. That’s according to research commissioned by Elance-Odesk, an online marketplace which connects businesses and freelancers.

The survey of 400 small business founders and owners reveals that almost half (49%) regard marketing as the most important component to a successful growth strategy (followed by new business (36%) and PR (13%)). However, 46% believe they spend far too much of their time on marketing as they don't have the skills or marketing background to use the time effectively.

Despite business owners recognising that they are investing too much time in marketing activities, business owners are reluctant to relinquish control and delegate. A key driver behind this reluctance to delegate is that almost a quarter (23%) of small business founders believe there is a lack of skills in their existing staff. Yet 29% of these businesses are unwilling to invest in relevant training courses to up-skill these staff members.

The research uncovered that a failure to delegate was having a negative impact on their business strategy with 30% of business owners saying it held back their business growth. Alarmingly, only 5% of respondents believe that they delegated at the right time.

Hayley Conick, Country Manager for Elance-oDesk, said: “Marketing is critical to a growing business. Yet as with any skilled profession, you need specialist skills and knowledge to get the best results.”

“What we are seeing is smart business owners taking advantage of the incredible amount of independent professionals available at the click of a mouse. Business owners that are accessing these specific skill sets have been able to free up more time to concentrate on the primary goal of every small business owner: nurturing and growing a successful business.”

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