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Your Many Hats as a Small Business Owner
by Dick Mader
June 14, 2024

Get Ready to Wear Many Hats as Small Business Owner

As a business owner/entrepreneur, how many different hats do you wear or how many roles do you play on the stage that is your business?

Are you tired of surprises or crises in your business that could have been avoided if you were paying closer attention?

Are you feeling pulled by or avoiding things you feel you don’t have all the skills for?

Business founders and owners, especially start-ups, are challenged every day with things that they didn’t see coming. Selling and putting out fires takes a lot of time and attention when we start. Other duties and important functions get neglected and cause a new crisis.

Take some time right now to identify the different hats you wear as a founder/owner. Decide which hats/functions are more vital to your business and how they work together.

CEO (Chief Executive/inspiration Office) When this hat is on, you are looking beyond today to where and how your business will meet the changing needs of your customers. You are recruiting the best employees, suppliers, and partners you can. You are cheerleading and training your employees, inspiring them to see and own your vision.

CFO (Chief Financial/money-Juggling Office) When this hat is on, you are using your financial projection worksheet to make sure your projections and suppositions are holding up. You are anticipating cash needs over the next 12 months and beyond. You are monitoring your key indicators to make sure your margins, salaries, accounts receivable and payables are current. If the key indicators are changing, why are they changing, and how can you adapt and take advantage of external changes?

COO (Chief Operating/traffic cop Officer) When this hat is on, you are monitoring the way your product or service is delivered to your customers. You are watching how quickly you are responding to an order, keeping the customer informed of progress, and taking care of delays and complaints. You are watching inventory levels and security, shipping times, and expenses. You are watching delays and wait times. You are watching what the competitors are doing in these matters.

CMO (Chief Marketing/cheerleading Officer) When this hat is on, you are thinking of new ways to tell your customers and prospective customers about the value and advantages of using your product/service. You are looking to see how you can sell existing customers more of your products and services. You are cheering on your salespeople and service people to make sure they are seeing things the same way that you are.

CIO (Chief Information/tech and social media geek Officer) When this hat is on, you are making sure that your information systems are secure and are providing the information your company needs to react to changes and take advantage of trends and customer needs. You need to be thinking of accounts receivable and payable and how accurate your systems are. You need to be thinking of the best and latest way to use social media to communicate with your customers, suppliers, employees, and associates.

Identify these positions/departments early. While you wear all these hats, titles and responsibilities, spend time and effort each day in every department. Don’t get dragged down with one challenge and ignore others. Understand how they work together and which ones in your case are more important than others.

Then, when you have the sales and resources to hire heads of those departments, you will know the skills and responsibilities they will need to help your business grow.

Attend a “Start Your Business, Successfully!” workshop and learn and network with other entrepreneurs.

About the author
Dick Mader
Dick Mader
Dick Mader has been a SCORE mentor since 2000. Mary & Dick Mader founded a Glendale-based media distribution company whose clients include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times, among many others.
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