Knowing and Owning Your Role

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When you first start a business, chances are you’re wearing nearly every “hat” needed to run it. Once you’ve launched, there comes a point where you have to take a look at the roles you’re filling and determine which ones make sense to continue with. The following are the most common positions held by entrepreneurs – which are you currently holding?

Founder/Entrepreneur: An individual who organizes and operates a business or businesses, taking on financial risk to do so.

Accidental Entrepreneur: Sometimes ideas are pursued and companies are formed more from circumstances than an actual plan. In my eyes, you’re an accidental entrepreneur if you did not actively seek the role of the entrepreneur—instead, it sought you!

Partner: One that is united or associated with another or others in an activity or a sphere of common interest, especially: a member of a business partnership.

President: A leader of an organization or company (or club, trade union, institution, nation, or just about anything else that one might preside over).

Chief Operating Officer (COO): The holder of this title is one of the highest-ranking executives in an organization, comprising part of the “C-suite.” The COO is responsible for the daily operation of the company and routinely reports to the highest ranking executive, who is usually the Chief Executive Officer.

Chief Executive Officer (CEO): The highest-ranking corporate officer (executive) or administrator in charge of the total management of an organization. Sometimes the term is used interchangeably with president; sometimes there is one but not the other; sometimes an organization will employ both.

The question becomes – which roles should you be holding. Or which roles are necessary for your business and its future. Ask yourself the following questions and try to be honest with your answers:

  • List the roles you feel have been most relevant to you through the start-up phase. What are they now? What has changed if that list has changed? How do you foresee it changing?
  • Think about your expectations of each of these roles and the attributes attached to them. Think about this not only in your own organization, but what responsibilities and capabilities do you envision a person holding one of these roles in another company to possess?
  • Thinking about the formality of these titles should cause you to think about the value you bring the business. If you were to list your top capabilities – what would they be? How do they match up with the roles listed above?
  • What roles do you feel you are best suited for – including those that may not be listed here (e.g. Marketing, Finance, etc).

It’s one thing to throw around these titles and to hear others talk about them, it’s another to understand what these roles mean in regard to your business and what capabilities are needed to successfully fill them. With some honest reflection, you can begin to make the right classifications and assignments when it comes to the effective management of your business.