Many people start a business because they want to “be their own boss” and have more control over their lives – with is a valid and noble reason for pursuing entrepreneurship. But one mistake that some would-be entrepreneurs make is that they assume that being “the boss” means they never have to do any “grunt work.”
The truth is, when you’re running your own business, you have to wear many hats. Just because your job title says “President” or “CEO” of your business doesn’t mean you’re exempt from doing the “dirty work.” On any given day of running a small business, you might have to serve as customer service rep, mailroom clerk, delivery driver, janitor or plumber. Don’t let ego stand in your way of being an effective entrepreneur.
Here are a few examples of how your role might change from day to day as the leader of a small business, which have nothing to do with what your “job title” might be:
- Customer Service Representative: Here at CorpNet, even though I’m the CEO, I often am on the phone with customers helping answer questions, provide free business consultations and making sales. Even though I’m the “CEO,” I believe that one of the most valuable things I can do is to help our customers each day. And by me being on the phones side-by-side with our customer service team, I’m setting an example and staying in touch with the standards of service that we want our company to deliver.
- Emergency Response Team: When you’re running your own business, you have to potentially be on-call 24 hours a day if something goes wrong. One time at CorpNet, our building’s security alarm went off and my husband Phil had to race to the office late on a Sunday night to find out what was wrong. It turned out that the building’s motion detector alarm had been triggered by some holiday snowflake decorations that one of our team, Stephanie, had put up to make the office festive for the holidays! But even though that was a funny example of an “emergency,” you never know what kinds of situations might come up that could affect your business. And when a crisis or a natural disaster strikes, you need to be calm under pressure and provide leadership and responsive communication for your customers and employees.
- Janitor: If you’re running a small business, and you need to make your office presentable for a client meeting, who’s going to empty the wastebaskets and vacuum the floors and make the place look nice? Sure, you can hire a cleaning crew, but sometimes you have to roll up your sleeves and take on the less glamorous tasks yourself. Even if you’re a CEO of your company, you should never be too proud to roll up your sleeves and get the job done. Stay humble. Stay in touch with your roots. Remember when you first started a business and you were starting with nothing.
Of course, just because you have to “wear many hats” doesn’t mean you should try to do everything yourself. One of the most important skills that small business owners need to learn is how to delegate. Focus on what you do best, find what role you can fill most effectively to get maximum return on your time and money, and maximize profitability for the company. But when time is short and budgets are tight, you should always be prepared to step in and do whatever needs to be done to keep your business running.