Business Owner Responsibilities Of A New Business Owner
What are the responsibilities of a small business owner?
A small business’s lack of resources, as compared to its larger counterpart, affects not only the employees but also the owner. As an entrepreneur, you have to learn to be a jack of all trades and perform multiple tasks as your business grows.
What Comes Under Business Owner Responsibilities?
When it comes to business owner responsibilities, most entrepreneurs do whatever is required to make their businesses a success.
This could mean doing everything from emptying the trash cans, to picking up the mail at the post office, to making sales calls, to changing the overall business strategy.
While being a business owner gives you the lifestyle of freedom and flexibility not offered to an employee, it carries greater responsibility with many more tasks to juggle.
In most cases, small business owners have to lead by example, partially because it works and partially because they have no other option. In this article, we look at some of the important responsibilities of a small business owner.
1. Financial Management
Most small businesses often do not have a ‘finance department’. There may be one additional finance expert on board, but a big chunk of the responsibility rests with the owner.
A small business owner needs to know where to invest their company’s capital and need to balance out the smart and ideal to keep the engine running as the business grows on the side.
2. Human Resources
When it comes to a small business, HR is the responsibility of everyone in an organization. Not literally. But, to have a healthy work culture, everyone should feel responsible for making the workplace inclusive and safe.
However, that starts with the small business owner. The owner should listen to complaints and queries, be unbiased, and work towards creating progressive and inclusive policies for employees.
Even hiring staff is one of the major responsibilities of a small business owner. No one knows the requirements of the business and its culture better than the entrepreneur. Therefore, they need to be actively involved in hiring and deciding who comes in.
3. Plans & Presentation Decks
Depending on the type of business, a company either needs decks to present to clients (B2B) and/or needs business plans to attract investors and foster growth. Till the staff size increases, these are one of the responsibilities of a small business owner.
Even if you yourself don’t make them, the decks/ plans should run directly by you so that you can have a final call in the matter.
In a small business, every small decision matters a lot. Everything is magnified. Therefore, as the big kahuna, you have to take the final call, since this business is your vision and your baby.
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4. Business Loans
Here again, what industry you’re in matters. Most small businesses start out as sole proprietorships. This has its advantages and drawbacks. One property of operating such as a business is that it is not a separate entity from the small business owner.
Therefore, most loans have to be taken on directly by you and you are liable for paying it back and using the loan funds responsibly to foster business growth.
5. Client Communications (B2B)
One of the many responsibilities of a small business owner is to handle client communications/ servicing. However, the additional person of authority that the client may want to talk to is more often than not, you.
There aren’t too many middle managers in a small business if any. Often, it’s you who has to communicate with clients and discuss deliverables, results, and next steps, or at least be a major part of the discussions.
There is a great story about how Underarmour founder, Kevin Plank, carried two business cards with him at all times when the business was still small. One read ‘president’, while the other read ‘sales manager’.
While that is the most literal example of being the core communications person with the client, most small business owners do have to switch hats to make the deals happen.
6. Customer Communications (B2C)
In most mom and pop stores, small business owners are the only point of communication with the customer. However, even in small businesses with some staff, there isn’t a ‘talk to your manager’ person. That’s usually just you.
Whether you’re into retail or handling large customers with a wholesale business, you end up doing a chunk of the communication with the final customers.
At the same time, this is also how small businesses grow. Seeing the owner talk to customers can incite loyalty amongst other customers – your business will have a personal touch that large corporations cannot simply afford.
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7. Organizational Structure And Administration
There most likely isn’t a COO/ strategy person in a business that’s still in its nascent stage. As an owner, you are like a leader of high functioning teams. Therefore it is up to them to organize and divide tasks, roles, and responsibilities.
In large organizations, a lot of employees handle work in their departments. Conflict can arise when a task falls into an area that may be considered part of multiple departments.
In small businesses, it’s the opposite, but confusion can still be prevalent without the voice of the organization. When a small team is handling multiple tasks, the question of who’s handling what arises when a new task comes on board.
Therefore, it is one of the responsibilities of a small business owner to ensure that such confusion happens as infrequently as possible.
8. Marketing & Promotional Work
Oftentimes, small businesses make their own promotional work. The resident graphic genius often designs a poster; the person with a casual knowledge of website builders makes the site. Small businesses have experienced it all.
However, even such businesses work with external agencies during periods of growth. Marketing and promotions have reached new highs, offline, and on the Internet. Therefore, many times an expert is needed on board.
And the person to talk to the expert? You.
9. Vendor Accounts
Various small businesses cannot afford multiple vendors’ accounts for the services they use. Many small agency businesses, which often consist of not more than 10 people take turns using a common account for music, graphics, etc.
It’s usually you who end up deciding on and purchasing such accounts.
Internal or external, when marketing is in the picture, you always have the final say.
10. Legal Matters
Small businesses or large ones – the head of the company usually ends up handling the major legal decisions and battles.
The film The Social Network depicts Mark Zuckerberg being sued on a personal basis. However, Facebook is the reason why that legal battle happened.
Similarly, small business owners, especially owners of sole proprietorships are strongly attached to the company’s legal matters. You often deal with the legal team or an external advisory on their own.
Every action the company takes that may have legal implications needs to go through you. This ensures that they’re in the loop about anything that needs checking and advising.
Another responsibility and a key skill that’s crucial to becoming a strong entrepreneur is negotiation.
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How To Be A Good Negotiator In Business: 8 Tips To Close The Deal
Knowing how to be a good negotiator in business can be a winning skill. Negotiations are a vital part of every online business.
Whether you’re looking on either side of the supply chain or dealing with customers, successful negotiations get you good value from a sale or purchase.
Knowing how to be a good business negotiator isn’t necessarily akin to negotiating on the streets. It’s not just a matter of lowering your price aggressively till the other party gives up.
You need to implement smart negotiation strategies to become a powerful negotiator.
In this article, we look at eight such strategies.
1. Know What You Want
Oftentimes, entrepreneurs and negotiators look for complex strategies on how to get success in business negotiations. But, there’s no magic formula. The key lies in knowing exactly what you want from the negotiation.
- A certain price
- The exact number of purchases
- A mutual agreement in which your company is getting X benefits
You need to know what you exactly want from the negotiation. It’s not as simple as lowering the price until you feel satisfied. You don’t need to lock on to an exact figure–one that will make you and the other party happy. Having a range and a cap in mind will guide you through the negotiation.
An entrepreneur who is sure of themselves is a confident negotiator. And a confident negotiator is a good negotiator.
2. Listen To What They Want
Knowing how to be a good negotiator in business requires some very basic social skills such as listening. It’s vital to the flow of every conversation and in negotiations, as well. It’s common knowledge that most people think of what to say even before the other person is done.
That only results in half-hearted responses and in a negotiation, such responses will most likely fail to add any value to the other party. To solve this, practice active listening.
Active listening is most often used by counselors. It requires the listener to really tune into what you are saying, without adding any judgment or opinions. It helps the listener understand the values of the speaker and what they’re looking for.
In negotiations, this can translate into you learning what the other person wants out of this deal. This, in turn, can help you formulate a deal that benefits you both. You get to close the deal and call it a win-win. What’s better than that?
3. Practice In Advance
Nothing will teach you how to get success in business negotiations better than good ol’ practice. Practice makes perfect and this applies to just about everything in life, even when it’s about knowing how to be a good negotiator in business.
However, when it comes to conversation and negotiations, the practice has a two-pronged benefit. If you practice negotiations with yourself and a person, you’ll be in a strong position to preempt a lot of their questions and have answers ready for them.
You might even begin to see the cracks in your end of the deal and might lead you to do more research and fix a few things that can make your points a lot better and, in turn, make you a powerful negotiator.
4. Research The Other Party
Research the person/ people you’re negotiating with and the company they’re representing if it is a B2B negotiation. Research goes a long way and it will help you greatly with business negotiations.
Just like a Football manager will look into the other team and prepare their tactics, a powerful negotiator will learn about who they’re talking to, what they value, the kind of deals they’ve made in the past, and what their company’s future plans are.
You’ll be more aligned with what they want and can even offer options that they didn’t think about.
5. Practice Good Body Language
Practicing approachable body language is vital to getting the other party in the negotiation on your side. Here are some things you can try:
Make eye contact: In a friendly, approachable way. Avoid staring and intensely gazing at the person. Don’t make it artificial by keeping your eyes wide open as they’re talking, instead of actually listening to them.
Fix your posture: Good posture not only prevents back problems but also makes you seem like a confident, good negotiator. Don’t slouch or sit like you’re trying to create a triangle with the chair.
Acknowledge the speaker: Nod and react to what the other person is saying and take some time to answer them instead of jumping right into your speech.
Practice your handshake: Don’t crush their hand, but don’t tickle them with your handshake either. All good things lie with balance.
Avoid showing signs of anxiety: Fidgeting, playing with your nails, touching your face, or moving your legs rapidly all scream “I’m a bad negotiator”. Everyone gets anxious before a big deal, just take a deep breath and avoid showing it in the open.
There are plenty of articles and books that talk about body language. Learning them will only help your cause.
Here’s a quick video of body language hacks for better negotiations.
6. Learn To Read Good Body Language
Humans subconsciously know what a certain type of body language means. However, most of us don’t analyze them as anything beyond that.
Someone is either approachable or not, for most people. However, knowing how to be a good negotiator in business is about learning to read those signs and use them to your advantage.
Someone is fidgeting? Maybe they’re anxious about talking to you? Ease them into the conversation so that they feel like they’re an active part of this discussion.
Good negotiators learn to read the situation and make the conversation positive so that everyone feels like they’re getting value out of the discussion.
7. Read Up
Books on social skills can teach you how to be a good negotiator in business. Dale Carnegie’s ‘How To Win Friends & Influence People’ is a timeless classic and its teachings remain true in this day and age, as well.
Much like it, there are a plethora of books available to read on a variety of topics.
At the same time, general reading and reading about current affairs and pop culture can help with small talk and can make you sound well informed.
At the end of the day, negotiations are as much about the prospects of the deal, as they are about the people who are involved in the dealmaking. A good negotiator knows that keeps themselves aware and educated.
8. Don’t Plan To Close The Deal
Quite ironic for an article that teaches you how to be a good negotiator in business. A powerful negotiator, much like a great salesperson knows two things that are more important than closing the deal:
These are two of the most fundamental aspects of most negotiation strategies. Instead of thinking about closing the deal, think about how you can add value to your client/ the other party.
Instead of thinking about the client as a sale or as a way to make profits for your business, think about how you can build a long term relationship with them.
Negotiation isn’t a one-off game. If you’ve made the other party happy, while meeting your requirements, then you’ve opened the door for future negotiations.
Think about what the other party really needs and think about where that falls into your own requirements.
Chances are, much like Venn diagrams, there is an intersecting zone for both your requirements. Once you tap into that zone, you’ll both end the negotiation satisfied. And this is a recipe for future deals.
A small business owner has to play the jack of all trades role. From purchasing accounts for the team to use, to personally dealing with legal matters- all of these are the responsibilities of a small business owner.
As the business grows, your responsibilities change. You sow the seed for a potentially strong and dependable tree of a company. With all the responsibilities in hand, it may seem like a tough job to be a small business owner.
And it is. It’s part and parcel of the role, but the rewards are worth the work.