I have been running a small IT services company for 2 years. I personally maintain close relationship with our clients. However, with increasing work and client base, I feel that I have become a bottleneck in proceedings.
My 12 staff members are too used to being dependent on me for everything. My clients wish to speak only to me and I find it risky to delegate this to a junior staff member.
What are the typical strategies I can employ to slowly evolve out of the situation?
Delegation that doesn't eliminate a dependency, is not full delegation.
If you find it risky to delegate -- you're doing something wrong. You either:
Without fixing that, your organization can never scale and you'll always be pegged at 150% for things that should have been taken care by others.
You must train your employees better and you must work on yourself to let go of your fear of letting 'someone else drive your precious car'.
Also during this transition of you passing some clients to your staff you should start easy. On face to face interactions bring them with you and let them lead the meeting. Direct some emails to them and let them answer then gradually remove yourself. To a point where the client has a relationship with your staff and calls or mails them first.
Having clear responsibilities is key to successful delegation as well. If people do not know their roles, they will not feel confident performing them, and you will not feel confident delegating them. Designate who does what, whether it is answering phones, making sales pitches, handling customer service queries, or whatever. Then stick with those responsibility assignments and make your role supporting your employees in the performance of theirs.