Too Many Hats?

Owning a small business can be an exhilarating profession that offers new challenges every day. But so does sword swallowing: It doesn't mean that it's easy work. Make no mistake, owning a business is a big responsibility. So the next time somebody tells you how “easy” you have it being your own boss, remind them of some of the less sung job titles you also hold:

Manager/boss: Sure, you're the boss. You also assume all the human resources-related functions, including recruiting, hiring, firing, and keeping track of all the benefits information. You fill out insurance forms, answer employee questions and complaints, and make each and every decision about benefits packages for employees.

Sales/marketing/advertising specialist: Talk about some hat juggling, in addition to planning marketing campaigns, you write advertising copy, do market research, visit potential customers, and make sure your customers are happy. Did someone say schmooze fest? Your public relations functions include joining business groups, attending various breakfasts, lunches, and dinners, and just generally networking on behalf of your company.

Accountant: Don't have a head for numbers? Too bad! Even if you have an accountant, you still know a lot about accounting. You understand what records to keep and how to keep them. You can prepare your own tax forms, and interpret your own financial statements.

Legal Expert: Even if you have a lawyer, you are well versed in the law, including employment law. If you have to, you can draw up a contract. Business manager: Hey, if it's your business, you'll inevitably want to make changes, perhaps to expand the business or add a new product line. All this is your responsibility. You have to plan it, do it, and live with the consequences, good or bad.

Bill collector:
When customers don't pay, it'll be up to you to collect from them. This is tricky business. You have to know your rights, as well as how to collect and when to give up.

Tax collector: If you sell retail, you are in charge of collecting a sales tax for various government entities. If you have employees, you're responsible for collecting payroll taxes from them.

Market researcher/data analyst: You have to know who your customers are and where they are located. And all this changes should you decide to add a new product to your line.

Information Technologist: As a small business owner, you depend on your computer; you'll have to fix it when it breaks, install upgrades, and load software; you'll also have to keep up with the newest products and the latest changes in technology.

General/all purpose office staff: Forget Girl Friday, you're your own Monday through Sunday slave labor. You do your own filing, typing, mailing and telephone answering. That's you changing the water bottle and definitely you making your own coffee.

Owning your own business is more than a full-time job. It's more like 10 of them. And by the way, feel free to educate the smart aleck who thinks you spend every afternoon on the golf course. Because you're the boss, you'd consider it a holiday to work 24-7.”ave no choice, postpone important meetings and tasks for a day or two.