Janet loved to cook and entertain, so when the opportunity to start a business arose, she jumped at it and opened her own restaurant. Janet thought this was her dream come true as she would get to cook and entertain and get paid for it. What could be better? Or so she thought… Very early into the game she found she had to market the business, keep track of her inventory, hire and manage people, keep track of her expenses and a whole host of other things. Very soon Janet spent very little time cooking and more time on the administrative stuff; She was disillusioned… Did she make a mistake?
Many businesses start as a result of the owners’ passion for something, but every business has certain roles and functions which must be carried out if it is to be successful. At the beginning, all those roles may be carried by the owner and as the business grows, it hires individuals to fill those roles.
The most common roles in a business are:
You are responsible for the overall direction and management of the business. You set the tone for the business, for the service, the product and relationships with all stakeholders.
No matter the size of your business you need to keep track of your expenses, revenues and tax liability to make sure you are on track. Most businesses exist to make a profit and if you do not keep proper accounting records, how will you know that you are profitable? Remember cash does not equal profitability.
Sales are the fuel of your business, there has to be enough of it to keep your business going. Someone has to be actively seeking new customers and ensuring that you keep existing ones. It is important to note that studies show that it is more expensive to find new customers than it is to keep existing ones.
Marketing and Public Relations
This involves managing the way your company is perceived by your target audiences and the public that they are motivated to do business with you.
This is perhaps the most important, yet most overlooked function in business. Your people can make or break your business. Finding the right people to represent your vision is important to the success of your business. Someone will need to recruit, manage performance, manage payroll and benefits, train etc.
Almost all new business has some interaction with technology. It helps to have someone with even a basic knowledge of keeping your equipment working and using technology to increase your efficiency.
This role keeps it all together on a daily basis. It may mean answering the phones, taking orders or just keeping the generated paperwork in order.
Tips to ensure all areas are covered:
The size of the business will determine the number of people you will need, but the main thing is to make sure that even if you decide to be ‘Head Cook and Bottle Washer’, all the functions needed to be successful are carried out. Here are some tips to get you going;
- Decide which areas you can comfortably cover. Be careful here, to play to your strengths and think about the value of your time. Do not fool yourself into thinking that because you can do it, you must. For example, you may be able to do data entry for your accounting records, but is that the best use of your time?
- Look to outsource the areas in which you have no expertise. Common areas to outsource are Recruitment, IT, Marketing and accounting.
- If cost is an issue, look to freelancers or part time workers or family members. You may even look for bartering services with another professional.
- Get advice on software you can use to make your business more efficient. Software as a Service has taken what used to be an expensive proposition for small businesses and made it more affordable, giving you access for small monthly fees.
- Get a business coach or mentor. You won’t be able to see everything, having a coach or mentor come alongside you provides an objective, expert view of your business and provides an accountability partner for you. Coaches and mentors help with strategy, marketing, people matters etc.
What has your experience been starting a business and how do you ensure that all areas are covered? Share your comments with us below.