The 10 Daily Roles of a Startup Entrepreneur
Leading a business is complex work. It’s not a matter of walking into the office, churning out a few ideas and considering yourself done for the day. No, the reality is that you’re going to be doing a little bit of everything -- especially in the earliest stages of your business’s development.
You won’t have the resources to afford entire departments, nor the operations experience for those departments to operate autonomously. Instead, you’ll have to step in to fill those roles temporarily to establish a foundation and direction for your company to grow.
Throughout your tenure as an entrepreneur, you’ll find yourself filling these 10 important and varied roles on a daily basis:
It should be no surprise that entrepreneurs are often seen as leaders, but the actual role of leadership takes experience to master. As the leader of your organization, you’ll be in charge of establishing the internal tone, setting a good example for your team, resolving conflicts and keeping morale up in times of distress or hardship. That's not always easy.
Acting as a figurehead for the company is a lot like being a leader, but it’s extrinsically focused. You’ll be a figurehead for the company when you network with other professionals, attend speaking events and develop your personal brand online. People will come to associate your company with your own personality and behaviors, so be true to yourself and make a good impression.
The role most people correlate with entrepreneurship is that of “visionary.” Entrepreneurs are idea people, always searching for opportunities for innovation and finding new ways to tackle old challenges. That role doesn’t go away once your business has launched. You’ll need to keep looking for new ways to improve, and new directions for your company to grow.
You won’t have the time or the ability to experience everything happening in the company firsthand. As an entrepreneur, you'll find your team members coming to you with information and dilemmas -- such as the fact that your next shipment is going to miss the deadline. It’s your job to make the final decision on these matters, which is often harder than it appears. There’s a lot riding on your shoulders, and you’ll be taking accountability for how your decisions ultimately turn out.
5. Financial analyst
The financial health of your company is the biggest factor for its ultimate success or failure. While you might have a CFO or similar position filled in your organization (it should be one of your top priorities), you'll still be responsible for overseeing your financial records and taking action when necessary to prevent disaster -- such as securing a new line of credit.
As the primary visionary for your company, you have the job of establishing an image for your brand. You can recruit an outside marketing professional to help you come up with the nuts and bolts, but ultimately, it's your job to finalize your company’s marketing plans.
When your organization gets bigger, you might get a receptionist or secretary to help you out, but, meantime, you’ll be the receptionist for the vast majority of your company’s incoming calls, emails, visitors and inquiries. Checking email, calling people back and rescheduling appointments is going to eat up a lot of your day -- like it or not.
8. Customer service rep
As an early-stage entrepreneur, you'll have the responsibility to make sure your customers are happy. You’ll only have a few clients in the beginning, and they’re going to be vitally important for the health of your business, so you’ll have to take it upon yourself to ensure their satisfaction (and make adjustments to your products and services if necessary).
9. HR manager
As an entrepreneur, you’ll be in charge of building the team that carries your ideas and objectives through to success. This means you’ll have full control over who comes into your organization, and you can prioritize whatever blend of skills, talents, education, experience and personality you need to make things work.
Entrepreneurship isn’t all about charisma and glory. Unfortunately, you’ll also be serving the role of a grunt in the early stages of your business. Data entry, paperwork, coffee runs and other unglamorous jobs will take up lots of your time -- but every second of that time will still be worth it.
Some of these roles don’t typically go away over time. You may hire more people who can take on these responsibilities, but you’ll still be in charge of making the final decisions and establishing the direction that your other organization leaders must follow.
That makes for a lot of pressure, and for some, the effort will be more hectic than it’s worth, but it will also keep your job interesting and give you greater insight into the actual mechanics of a business. One thing’s for sure: Entrepreneurship will change your life.