What’s your reason for wanting to start your own small business? Is it wanting to be your own boss, or trying to find a way to make money that fits into your lifestyle? Maybe you have an undeniable passion to provide something only you can. It’s probably not an overwhelming desire to do paperwork and spend as much of your day finding customers as you do developing your product.
As a new small business owner, you should expect to wear many hats, including some that may come as a surprise or not fit well with your primary skills or talents. No matter your business, you will be more than just the primary creative – you are also the project manager, the whole marketing team, the accounting department, and more.
Speaking as a former project manager, I can tell you that it’s a position of utmost importance that is easy to undervalue, especially in creative settings.
In your capacity as project manager, you will be responsible for everything that happens in your business, including managing the timeline, ordering any necessary supplies in advance, and ensuring the quality of the final delivery. You are also responsible for contacting, vetting, and communicating with any outside vendors.
Although we definitely recommend hiring a professional when taxes come due, you will certainly be responsible for everything else throughout the year.
This includes keeping track of any business accounts you may have (checking, savings, credit cards), ensuring all your bills are paid on time, creating invoices for your own customers, and doing any necessary follow up on unpaid invoices.
When you’re first starting out, it’s possible you don’t have the funds to hire a freelance web designer or developer. Even if you do choose to have someone do the initial launch of your website, most nascent entrepreneurs prefer to keep their expenses low and will opt to make any edits and simple updates to the website themselves.
Depending on the amount of experience you have with websites, particularly the platform yours is built on, and how frequently your site needs to be updated, you could be surprised at how much time you spend keeping your digital presence up to date.
Word of mouth is a great way to get your first customers, but for your business to grow, you will need to start finding people outside of your direct friends and family group. To do this, you’ll need to market your business through flyers, brochures, social media, emails, and more. Each of these avenues will require a slightly different skillset, and most, if not all, will require you to expand beyond the initial focus of why you started your business.
One of the last departments to be added to a small business’ in-house team is human resources. This is unlikely to be a problem for you if you intend to stay a one- or two-person team, but it is definitely something you’ll need to consider if you team starts to grow.
Human resources is responsible for keeping the team and the managers on the same page, for ensuring that any issues between team members are resolved, for interviewing, hiring, and firing, and all the paperwork that entails.
When people dream of starting their own business, one of the perks of ownership is the right to put “CEO/founder” on their business card. But if they have never worked in the upper levels of management, it’s likely they don’t actually know what responsibilities that position entails.
Although C-level responsibilities will differ by organization structure and size, for our purposes, we’ll be considering the Chief Executive Officer position to encompass all high-level paperwork and planning.
In reality, one of the first things you need to do when started a business has little do with the product or service you plan on offering. If you are a baker who wants to start selling wedding cakes out of your kitchen, your first step isn’t learning how to bake cakes. Even if you’ve never worked in a bakery, you wouldn’t be getting into this business without an extant skillset.
You already know how to bake beautiful and delicious wedding cakes. What you need now is a business plan. What is the cost of your cakes going to be? How will brides and grooms find you? What will your profit margins be like? Do you intend to one day expand into a public location?
In the long run of your business, your performance as a businessperson is just as important as the quality of the cakes you produce.