What Exactly Does a Business Owner Do?
When you set out to start your business, I am sure you thought about your company name and what you would sell. As your business has grown, you have probably thought about job descriptions for your employees, but have you ever thought about your job description?
Do you have a clear idea of what you should do, or do you end up batting clean up, taking on tasks that others can’t or won’t? Sometimes you need to play the business owner role, but in general that is not the best strategy for long term growth. Here are a few basics to help you start defining your best role in the company.
Business owners set the vision and strategy
You went into business for a reason. You had an idea or a product and a picture in your mind of what success would look like. Those initial ideas set the vision for your business. Over time you should be revisiting the initial vision to see if it still holds true or needs to be adjusted. Along the way, you need to communicate your vision to your team so they can work with you to accomplish a common goal.
Once everyone agrees on the vision, it is time to work on the strategy and specific steps to reach your objectives. While you will have significant influence over the strategy, don’t be afraid of letting your team have input into how you will get where you want to go. When people are involved in the process they are more likely to have ownership of the tasks and the outcomes. As the owner you don’t have to have all the answers. As a matter of fact if you hire smart talented people, they will probably come up with a few suggestions which might never have occurred to you.
Business owners plant the culture
Deliberately or by accident, you will create the basis of the culture. Your values will set the standard for how things get done, what the company feels like and the general reputation in the marketplace. As you hire people, they don’t have to be clones of you, but it is important for them to embrace the culture or you may sense the business no longer feels right as you grow.
At Roundpeg, we spent several weeks identifying key values. We argued for awhile about what core traits everyone should have if they are going to be a member of our team. For us the list is pretty short:
- Embrace fun – Understand that there is always time for an arts and craft project or a cat video.
- Honest explanations, no bullshit answers – We tend to be pretty direct in our blog posts and communication with clients. We don’t have a lot of room for “corporate speak.”
- Customer Focus – At the ‘Peg phones are answered on the first ring. We pride ourselves on being accessible and responsive to clients. If you don’t like talking on the phone you probably won’t like life at the ‘Peg.
- Budget savvy creative -Almost anyone can come up with great campaigns on an unlimited budget. Can you do it in a way which won’t break the bank? That is a core part of who we are.
Business owners hire, train and manage
As your company grows beyond just you, there will be time set aside for hiring, training and coaching. As you start down this path you will have tough decisions to make regarding when to bring people on, and what type of people to hire.
- Experience vs low cost – It is less expensive to hire someone right out of school but you will spend more time training and coaching. You can hire a more experienced person, it will cost more, but the learning curve will be shorter. Just be sure to build in time for a learning curve with even the most experienced person as they adjust to your systems.
- Generalist or specialist – In a small business everyone wears a lot of hats so in the beginning it is helpful to bring on people who can do more than one thing. Eventually, you will need to find people with a higher level of skill in one area. Unfortunately, that means they may not have skills or interest in other areas. At Roundpeg, our early employees wrote, designed websites and managed client accounts. Today our designers may write blog posts, but they no longer write client web copy, we have writers for that.
As you grow you may be able to turn over some of the screening process to external partners or top managers, but if you are writing the paycheck, you should probably meet the person before you bring them on board.
Business owners sell
It will be a long time before one of your employees has the same passion, product knowledge or credibility you have with prospective clients, so sales will be in your job description for a long time to come. You may eventually hire sales people, but customers will still want to meet you on the big deals, and they should.
Find time to do what you love
Don’t delegate everything that you love. Yes, new people will join your team and they will help handle the day to day but if you no longer work on what you love you will burn out. Between employee and facility issues, some days it is hard to remember I started a marketing company because I love marketing. When that happens, I step back and work on a customer project. I keep engaged in the creative side of the business and the clients love the interaction,.
As a business owner, take some time to figure out what you really want your job to be, then hire, delegate or outsource what doesn’t fit. This is my job description. What’s yours?
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