To build a successful business, an entrepreneur must wear at least seven functional “hats.” On any given day, they may include finance officer, marketer, HR manager, even office janitor. These seven hats are often overlooked but are perhaps the most critical to entrepreneurial success.
The Visionary Hat. The role of the successful visionary is to look to the future and chart a course of action. It involves answering the question of “What do I want the business look like in three years and beyond.” Begin with setting realistic goals , and when these are met set new goals. Small businesses without an eye on the future are most likely to remain small.
The Teacher Hat. The boss needs to know the details of every job in the business and then share that insight during “hands-on” training of each new staff member. This experience will prove useful in planning work schedules and evaluating staff performance.
The Team Hat. If you try to do it all by yourself you’ll never grow your business. As you grow your business, you need to build both internal and external teams. The external team may consist of your accountant, banker, insurance agent, lawyer and key suppliers Remember to show appreciation to all the teams and design a compensation system which rewards the internal team performance. You may want to consider contacting SCORE to form a business advisory board team.
The Role Model Hat. Respect is earned. It is not bestowed. It is only through your actions in support your company’s stated values that your leadership will be recognized. Regardless of the hours do you work shoulder to shoulder with your staff throughout a crisis period? Do you show a willingness to place customer concerns ahead of short term profit considerations?
The Community Hat. It is not enough to assume that your sole responsibility begins and ends with providing work opportunities. Wearing this hat means reaching out to your community in tangible ways. Sponsor a little league team or organize a 5K race for a local charity. Be active in civic organizations. The time may come when you will need their support. Have you earned it?
The Empathy Hat. As an entrepreneur, you will need to recognize and use empathy. This means being able to put yourself in another person’s shoes. By imagining how they think and feel you’ll be able to react in an appropriate manner over a wide range of situations. Your willingness to see your business as others see it will go a long way to earning strong loyalty from those around you. During difficult times this loyalty may make all the difference in whether your business sinks or swims.
The Communication Hat. Whether it’s good news or bad news, employees, investors and clients want to be informed in a direct and timely manner. Communication voids are too often filled by rumors which distort the truth in a negative way. This typically leads to poor employee morale, client defections and upset investors. Recognize that effective communication does not occur unless the sender and the receiver interpret the message in the same way.
If you wear these hats well, and consistently, you are on your way to becoming a successful entrepreneur. They are keys if worn well and roadblocks if not.
Al Torpie is a mentor for SCORE Savannah. Call the SCORE office at 912-652-4335 to schedule a no-cost confidential appointment with one of our skilled pricing experts and learn the research techniques necessary to understand your market and your competitors.