Since I have worked with businesspeople all my career, as part of my normal activities I meet many people who own businesses.
For the past few weeks, when I have met someone who owns a small business, I’ve made a point of asking, “What do you do for a living?” The answers have been revealing: “I’m a jeweler.” “I’m a florist.” “I’m a financial planner.” “I’m an architect.” "I’m a plumber.”
While the answers were technically accurate, they only tell part of the story.
Their answers described what their business does and, while most spend part of each day doing the technical work of the business, as owners they do more, much more: they manage the business. That means they plan the future of the business, they set expectations and standards and they make sure that payroll and invoices are paid on time. They also make sure that bookkeeping is done accurately, taxes are filed and paid in a timely manner, and inventory and supplies are bought in the proper amount at the proper time. And then there is the hiring and training, the planning and implementing of sales promotions and marketing events and so much more that I could fill the rest of this column by listing the many tasks of a typical small business owner.
But the primary task of the business owner is to manage, no matter the businesses product or service. Yes, most owners also do some or all the other tasks in the business, but managing is primary, otherwise the business quickly goes down the tubes.
The failure rate of small businesses is directly related to the quality of management. If owners had the primary self-image of being the CEO or president instead of being a jeweler, florist, financial planner, architect, plumber, etc., their businesses would probably be better managed and become more profitable, more sustainable and more enjoyable.
If you own a small business think of your primary function. If you think of yourself primarily as someone who works in the business, consider changing the focus of your time at work to managing. When you manage. you will become a businessperson.