Wearing Many Hats in Your 50+ Business without Losing Your Head
You may have heard that in order to become a successful business owner, you must learn to become a “jack of many trades”.
But what specific management tasks must you be able to handle?
Below, I’ve detailed each of the most crucial business management activities you must become somewhat competent at administering.
Of course, as your business’s revenues grow, you can afford to delegate some of these tasks to outside contractors, thereby relieving yourself of the direct responsibility for their implementation.
Marketing director. You’ll have to learn how to manage four different ways to grow your company’s sales (take a look at the grid below). Your task will commence with market research, then conceptualization of new marketing activities, and then implementation of these activities.
Copywriter. No one else should know more about your products and services than you do, therefore, the job of writing selling copy about your products or services will fall upon you. You can use an outside copywriter to punch up your writing, but it’s always wise to attempt to complete the first draft yourself.
Graphic designer. Your words are important but equally important are the pictures you use to sell your product or service. This is one area of small business management where I strongly encourage you to use an outside service provider. A top-notch graphic designer combines artistic training and in-depth knowledge of some complicated software programs. These are two skills you likely don’t posses and cannot acquire rapidly.
Sales manager. In this role, you’ll have to continually locate new groups of prospective customers, persuade them to let you make a selling presentation to them and then convince them that you offer the most attractive solution and get them to agree to an order. As you grow your company, you can certainly consider adding a part-time or full-time salesperson. But, you must always maintain a tight grip on the sales management function, as this single area of business management spells success or disaster for your business.
Credit & collection manager. All of your effective selling will be for naught if you can’t collect the money your customers owe you. You’ll need to create a system to check out the credit of prospective customers, and then to collect money owed to you in a timely fashion.
Personnel manager. This responsibility ranges from the relative simplicity of completing agreements with independent contractors, to recruiting, hiring and managing employees.
Accountant. Although I highly recommend that you use accounting software to manage your financial records, you’ll still need to know some basic accounting so that you can speak intelligently with your bookkeeper and/or accountant. This responsibility may also include learning how to prepare your business income tax return.
Facilities manager. Even if your “facility” is your den, you’ll face certain responsibilities related to the equipment you own for your business. For example, where will you buy replacement cartridges for your laser printer? What phone services will you need and where do you get them? Who will repair the company van if it needs a tune-up?
Lawyer. Just as with accounting, you will need to know some small business legal basics, such as: What is a contract and when might I need one? How do I know if I need to apply for a trademark? How do I prepare to meet with an attorney? There’re some great small business legal web resources today, such as those at Legalzoom.com.
Tax collector. If your business sells goods at retail, you’ll likely be legally required to collect sales tax for your state, record it and send a check in payment to your state department of revenue. A bookkeeper can help you prepare the tax return, but it’s your management responsibility to make sure that it’s completed on schedule.
Technology expert. At a minimum, you will need to learn the basics of using a computer and several of the most popular software programs, such as the accounting program we mentioned earlier. Unless you’re starting a computer consulting business, no one expects you to be a “techie”, but you must at least know what people mean when they say things like: DSL, wireless, download, URL, e-mail, spreadsheet, etc.
Administrative Assistant. Guess what? You don’t have a secretary! Those letters won’t get magically typed. Those folders won’t jump into the file cabinet. And that phone message won’t write itself down. As a business owner, you’ll need to know the basics of such office support tasks as: typing, filing, scheduling, using the postage meter, ordering supplies, etc.