Startup Founders – So Many Hats, So Little Time
Okay, you’ve either saved enough or found enough investors to provide your small business or startup with a push in the right direction. You’ve secured office space either in your home or by renting a modicum of square footage, hopefully devoid of distractions. Now the hard part begins. Yes, It’s a bit obvious. You’ll need to wear a good number of hats, particularly if it’s too early in the game to bring on any staff.
The list is long. There’s a business plan. A marketing strategy. An advertising campaign. A website that needs search engine optimization. And oh yeah, social media to reinforce all of the above.
So, it’s understandable, that in the very beginning you might feel a wee bit overwhelmed. But like everything else in life, while the first steps are the hardest, with a little forethought and planning, the succeeding ones will get easier over time.
You’re a Generalist & Specialist
In assuming the role of the General Manager, you’ll soon learn there’s a learning curve that while tedious is not insurmountable.
Since you’re the chief honcho and number-one decision maker, you’ll need to weigh just how much risk you’re willing to take at the onset of building a business. No matter what they’ve told you in the past, in this arena, as a Jack-of-all-trades, you must also become master of everything. When wearing multiple hats, you deal with whatever comes up when ever, whether you have the expertise or not.
As top dog, you’ll need to write all the business and marketing plans and educate yourself with a wide variety of business publications and manuals. Learn the best practices from successful SMBs and study their use cases that proved the most successful.
Get in the Habit of Good Habits
In the best-selling business guide, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Steven Covey explains how to consciously define and nourish each of the roles required. He recommends not just thinking of yourself as an ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘business owner,’ but to break down all of the separate job responsibilities and duties into actionable steps – in essence, to envision yourself moving from point A to point B and so on.
Good habits require that you allot blocks of time for the various job responsibilities and stick to a schedule. This means setting time aside to work on sales leads, bookkeeping, writing blogs and content for promotional materials and most importantly creating a daily routine where you prioritize what you intend to accomplish each day. And then analyzing at the end of the day, why you were or were not able to accomplish all of your goals.
While each type of business is specific to certain vertical market, think back to the job descriptions which were written for you in your previous work-life, and then devise one specific to your new business.
Since this is your business, start this process by reminding yourself what was the motivation and key reasons for starting your company to begin with. Then by working in all of these different roles, you will learn over time which ones suit you, and those you’ll be able to release to other staff members, when the time is right.
Some Hats to Consider . . .
Here’s a short list of some of the more critical roles you will need to become proficient at in the beginning.
Office Manager. Putting your office together so it functions as efficiently as possible is a crucial first step. Since a phone system is the lifeblood for communicating with your potential clients, customers and staff, most small businesses gravitate to VoIP services. Plans such as those available at Telzio are perfect for a startup, where the cost outlay is minimal [starting plans as inexpensive as $1 per month] and installation can be done in no time at all.
Marketing director. Startup Nation notes you’ll have to learn how to manage four different methods for growing your company’s sales [as outlined in the grid below.] Your task will commence with market research, then conceptualization of new marketing activities, and then implementation of these activities.
Sales manager. In this role, you’ll have to continually fill your sales funnel with new prospects through lead generation. This is when you locate new groups of prospective customers by emails, phone calls or via social media.
Persuading prospects to listen to your business proposition — and then convincing them how your solution is the right fit for their company is the next logical step. As your company matures, you can consider adding sales staff, but, it’s important to always maintain tight controls of the sales management process in the beginning, as this single job responsibility is what’s going to fuel your business growth going forward.
Technology expert. At minimum, you’ll need to learn the basics of using a computer, mobile devices and several of the top software programs for businesses, such as accounting and lead generation programs. Again, there’s a learning curve involved with each, but remember, unless you’re starting a computer consulting business, no one expects you to be a technological guru. But as far as the basics, you must at least know what people mean when they say things like: VoIP, the Cloud, downloads, URLs, software applications, spreadsheets, webinars, etc.
As a new business or startup owner, it’s important for you to conceptualize, in advance, exactly how you are going to get everything done in the time alloted to you. Wearing multiple hats is definitely a juggling act, but it’s not an insurmountable challenge. With a little forethought and planning, and while weighing the risks at various intervals along the way, at the end of the day, it’s the kind of challenge that can be most gratifying once you get passed knowing just what hat to wear when!
Ron is part of the marketing team at Telzio, covering everything from tips and tech for growing businesses to customer success stories for the Telzio blog.