For many workers, small business ownership sounds like a dream job.
Instead of spending 40+ hours a week working for someone else, you can buy a business, stop by the office for a few hours a day, and devote the rest of your time to finding new ways to spend all those profits you'll be making.
If only small business ownership were that easy. In reality, small business owners work harder and longer than they did when they worked for an employer – and often reap fewer financial rewards for their efforts. Inexperienced entrepreneurs not only have to adjust to the grinding pace of business ownership, but also to the many roles business owners are expected to play in a small company work environment.
- Boss. The transition from an employee to a manager can be difficult for new business owners. Hiring turns out to be more challenging than they thought it would be and the unpleasantness of disciplining (or even terminating) underperforming workers leaves them questioning their choice of vocation.
- Sales Director. Many small businesses have a department that is dedicated to sales. As the owner, you are expected to be your sales force's de facto leader. Responsibility for strategy development, execution, and monitoring is yours whether you like it or not.
- Chief Marketing Officer. Business owners also serve as their companies' chief marketing officers, even if they have no marketing experience. Campaign development and implementation can be outsourced, but you're the final decision maker about your company's PR and marketing messages.
- Accountant. Depending on the size of your business, your accounting responsibilities can range from directly entering figures into Quickbooks to overseeing a dedicated accounting department. Either way, you will be held accountable for the quality of your accounting processes and the accuracy of the numbers your company reports.
- Legal Researcher. Smart business owners hire the best attorneys they can afford. But a hotshot lawyer won't eliminate your responsibility for researching the legal issues that affect your business. Staying on top of legal issues is a never-ending job, but it's part of being a business owner.
- IT Guy. IT guy? Really? You bet. Most small businesses can't afford to staff their own IT department. So when the server goes down, you're the guy who will get the call. If IT isn't your thing, delegate this responsibility to someone else in the organization, but work hard to stay on top of emerging solutions that can benefit your business.
- Clerical Assistant. These days, business owners and CEOs handle much of their own typing and light clerical work. If you need to alphabetize an entire file cabinet, assign the task to an office assistant. But if you need to file a few folders, expect to take care of it yourself.