I left medical corporate to set up my own solopreneur business and one of the things that I found really difficult was that it was only me. Sure, I had an accountant, but she was a supplier and not a real live person in my office.
Back in my employer’s company there was a whole collection of departments and divisions. Let’s look at a few
• Customer Service
Bigger companies will have even more departments.
Fast forward to me sitting in my new office and it is only me! Suddenly all those roles that are so needed in a company are all filled by you with your multiple hats. I could not shout for IT, or phone customer support and ask them to contact a customer or get a quote from the quotes department. Nope. Now I had to solve the error on my laptop or puzzle out how to connect the data projector. I had to phone the customer and it was me who had to type the quote or proposal. It was me who had to follow up with the client because they have not paid or they paid the wrong amount. Gone were the days when I could complain about finance putting my customer on credit hold.
So may roles and no people
You may be thinking that it is easily solvable and you just employ more people. It isn’t that easy as more people mean salaries and you are then the one that has to ensure that people’s cell phones say ka-ching every month when their salary is paid. Excuses at the end of the month for not paying people are not really understood or accepted.
So back to those multiple hats
You will be passionate about one of those hats and have background experience in one of those departments. I come from a sales background. Your skills and experience may lie in another department.
Let me ask how skilled you are in those other departments? Do you even know what those other departments do? Are you aware of the process that is required or are you only a small part of the big picture?
Let’s imagine that Mary wants to start her company and make cupcakes. She makes the most delicious cupcakes you have ever tasted. She is an absolute expert in cupcakes. She is going to crush this business. Six months later you discover that Mary’s business didn’t work.
Turns out that Mary did not know about pricing, packaging, delivery, insurance, sales, marketing, quality control, researching new recipes, invoicing, collecting money, tax and finance to name only a few.
What can you do?
• Spend time being curious about what other people do? We are all cogs in a big process. Acquire knowledge about those other cogs. Get to know the process.
• Spend time learning – whether you read on the internet or do courses.
• Network with other entrepreneurs and be willing to share information.
• Invest in yourself and work with professionals like a business coach, life coach and accountant.
• Before you set up your “Cupcake” business work out the processes and procedures and be sure to familiarise yourself with each role that is needed.
• Do not be tempted to fill up the roles with family and friends who will work for free
• Imagine yourself as a drone flying over your business so that you can see all of it. What can you see?
• Have the necessary infrastructure in place like a quote template, accounts package, CRM system.
A frequent problem seen in start ups is that the person doing the start up is passionate and skilled in only one area. Unfortunately it takes multiple skills to run a company and you need to be able to swop fast from one hat to the next.
submitted by Colleen Qvist (Master Coach)
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author.