Making the decision to take charge of your career and go into business for yourself is an exciting life milestone. But make no mistake, you may be in for a bumpy ride as you make the transition from diligent employee to lucrative small business owner.
When you're just starting out as a business owner, no matter the industry, it’s likely that you will be doing the jobs of many people until you gain the capital to hire more employees.
Thus, in order for your small business to succeed long term, you’ll need to put your multitasking and time management skills to the test, at least at first.
Multiple Roles and a Diverse Skill Set
Along with manning the day-to-day operations of your startup, you may also have to handle finances and tax documentation, manage your social media marketing campaign, and fix any computer or networking problems that may arise. Here are four distinct professions you should have at least a rudimentary grasp on in order to launch your small business startup and keep it rolling.
1. Content Marketing Professional
Today’s small business formula for success is more complex than ever; along with having a useful product or service that’s well crafted and/or executed, a comprehensive marketing plan is vital. And that plan should encompass numerous tactics, from social media marketing to old-fashioned and word-of-mouth advertising.
Digital marketing can help you differentiate your startup from competitors, giving you an edge up in what can be an aggressive, saturated market. For starters, you’ll want to learn some of the basics of SEO, such as how to optimize content for search engines. Then, you’ll need to create content that aligns with the mission and voice of your brand, and that you can share on social media.
From the launch date of your business, you should establish a brand-centric presence on social media. Whether your social media posts are humorous or more businesslike in nature, put out a clear, branded message that firmly establishes your company as an industry leader.
Make sure create accounts on top sites like Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, along with any other applicable platforms. An estimated 164 million people use Facebook every month, making the platform a substantial force in marketing.
Finally, relevance and consistency are key: make sure to update your website and social media pages regularly.
2. Web Designer
Aesthetics are immensely important to a company’s bottom line, from product design to the look of your website and social media pages. As such, a small business owner with a minimal hiring budget may need to take on the role of web designer.
Function and user experience are key elements to keep in mind during the design process. If you’re new to the business of web design, there are myriad site hosting and template options at your disposal, many of which are free of charge.
Squarespace, for instance, is extremely user-friendly, and its customized templates can be tailored to every industry, from Professional Services to Community & Non-Profit.
Look at the big picture when designing a web page and or buffing up your social media presence, and avoid common website design mistakes, such as content that’s difficult to read and/or decipher, and expansive walls of text. The ultimate goal is to create a site that’s streamlined, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing.
Your website and social media pages should also be packed with information about your products and services, and contain up-to-date contact information to ensure that potential clients are always able to reach you.
3. IT Specialist
Once your website is in place, your work has just begun. Another hat worn by the independent small business owner is that of information technology (IT) specialist. You’ll be in charge of keeping your website running, but there’s more to the IT job than just maintenance.
As a technician, you’re the veritable record-keeper of your company, and there are a variety of file types that your business should back up on a regular basis — including financial statements, general system files, and personnel records. It is crucial to backup files in the case of an unforeseeable event, such as a power outage or security breach that brings down your company’s computer system.
Further, you should also back up tax forms and IRS-specific documents, and many accountants recommended that you keep those records in your files for about seven years. That way, you’ll be prepared for any future questions regarding your company’s earning, expenditure and profits.
Backing up tax statements isn’t the only contact you’ll have with your company finances as a small business owner. You may also need to step into the shoes of an accountant, which encompasses a variety of duties including profit and expenditure documentation and filing your taxes.
Fortunately, the financial aspect of your business is not as intimidating as it may appear, since there is a variety of accounting software marketed to small companies and startups, many of which are budget-friendly and uncomplicated. At its core, accounting is the process of gathering an individual or entity’s financial information and analyzing that data.
As for your business’ IRS obligation, investing in online tax filing software may be a smart move, and you should take the time to learn a few of the basic concepts and terms that may crop up during the tax filing and documentation process.
In your accountant role, you’ll need to determine which business expenses are deductible — that is, necessary and ordinary for your business. Storefront rent, utilities, and office equipment are examples of deductible business expenses.
The Resourceful and Successful Small Business Owner
As we have seen, a small business owner’s role can be complex and strikingly varied. Rest assured that, even if you initially wear the hats of an accountant, web designer, IT specialist, and content marketer as well as CEO, it’s likely not to a long-term situation.
A strong business plan, coupled with your determination and grit, may just fast-track your company from startup to powerhouse. And the time spent in the position of jack-of-all-trades may yield invaluable insight into every aspect of your small business.
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