Sunday, December 8, 2013

4 Hats to Wear in the Self-employment World

Running a small business may be more work than you think…much more.  And it can involve a variety of activities with which you may not have much experience.  Nevertheless, as a small business owner, it may be your responsibility to handle these issues whether you like it or not.

Having been self-employed myself for nearly six years now, I’ve realized just how difficult the small business or freelance world can be and how many different hats must be worn when trying to run your own show.

IT Director
I’ll admit that technology is not my favorite thing to deal with.  I don’t particularly like it, I don’t really enjoy it, but as a self-employed individual, I’m pretty much forced to interact and utilize it.  Gone are the days when I could pick up the phone and dial the IT department to solve my technology-related issues.

From fixing a computer when it crashes, to learning new technology and software, finding new apps, creating a website or blog, and utilizing social networking, there are a variety of facets of the tech world that a small business owner or self-employed individual may encounter. 

Personally, I find that doing a lot of research online and reading user reviews of different technology and tech-related applications is typically most helpful in finding solutions to issues or learning about more efficient or effective technology.  Networking with clients and colleagues is also a great way to find out about the experiences they’ve had and sites or technologies that they may be using or have had experience with.

Marketing and advertising exec
There is any number of marketing and advertising facets that might need to be handled by one who is operating a small business or is self-employed.  From simpler tasks like social networking through sites like Facebook and Twitter, to creating blog or website posts, communicating with or commenting on industry-specific websites, creating coupons and flyers, coming up with promotions, and handling public relations issues -- both good and bad -- marketing can play almost a daily role in certain operations.

Creating not only a schedule for handling such items, but also a budget can help put some order to what might otherwise be chaos.  Setting aside a certain amount of time each day or a particular day each week to focus on this aspect of operations can ensure that you are devoting enough time to the promotional aspects of a business.

Acting as the chief financial officer of your own operation may be one of the most important roles you take on as a small business owner or self-employed individual. 
While you don’t necessarily have to get fancy with the software and systems you utilize to handle the financial aspects of your work, ensuring that you’re tracking and organizing your finances in some way can be critical to the success of your operation.

These financial aspects can run from handling tax payments and document retention for future tax filings, to creating and retaining receipts, tracking income, tracking expenses, creating and maintaining a budget and/or forecast, ensuring proper cashflow, collecting upon receivables, and sending out payables.  While it might seem like a lot to handle, such issues can be integral to having and maintaining a good financial grasp upon a business.

Manager and staffer
In a small business setting, an owner can find himself or herself not only managing the operation, but jumping in and getting their hands dirty too.  From setting goals and tracking productivity, to learning about productivity enhancers, motivating staff, handling human resources issues, hiring, disciplining, training, and sometimes terminating staff, and dealing with legal and workplace safety issues, a small business owner can be charged with a variety of management issues while also sparing time for all the other duties involved in running an operation.

So, while running your own show can sound like a dream come true, and can actually be quite rewarding in many ways, it’s important to understand the full capacity in which an owner might be serving and just how many roles he or she may be undertaking in the process.


The author is not a licensed financial or career professional.  The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute advice of any kind.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.

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