How many job roles does an SME owner really have?

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024

By Rob Mercer, Senior Regional Director, Ashley Finance

Small businesses now account for 99.3% of all private sector businesses so, while being the owner of an SME isn’t out of the ordinary, running one is far from a walk in the park. As all business owners will know, managing a company can be all-consuming and growth can seem a long way off when you start out with limited resources and finances.

As a result, there are a lot of roles and responsibilities to juggle. A small business owner can often be the CEO, CFO, marketing and customer service manager all rolled into one, and this list goes on.

This responsibility is often made all the more difficult by a lack of support. Recent research by the Ultimate Finance Group found that two thirds of small business owners feel there is not enough support available in the UK for SMEs, making it no surprise that nine out of 10 say that their business has had a negative impact on relationships and family life.

So then, what are the different job roles the SME owner has to take on, and how can they manage them all at once in a way that eases pressure?

Job 1) Chief Executive Officer – CEO

First and foremost, a small business owner is the principal strategist and planner. They’ll have invested a lot of time in researching, planning and writing up a business plan and budget, as well as making the day to day management decisions necessary. In their role as CEO, a small business owner will make all the final decisions.

Job 2) Financial Accountant

A lot of larger SMEs have their own finance team, however those that are starting out, or of a smaller scale won’t have this luxury. The owner of a business like this will have to take on the all the finances; from setting up and maintaining bank accounts, processing payment, paying staff wages, invoicing suppliers and keeping on top of bills and taxes – regardless of whether figures are your strong point.

Job 3) Marketing and Sales Manager 

Even if the business idea is amazing, like any business, it will need marketing and sales to drive it. In the early days it’s not unusual for a small business owner to take on advertising, PR, online marketing and social media.

Job 4) Customer Service Representative

Small business owners can often take on all or most customer service duties. From phone calls, to emails and following up customer concerns regarding the quality of the product/service on offer – customer service duties can be a time-consuming task. This tends to be one of the first roles a business owner will delegate as the business grows. Additionally, as technology progresses, the customer service role can now be automation if there is budget for investment.

It’s a balancing act

And that’s not even everything, there’s HR to think about and the legal side of things too. The reality of it is that running a small business is a balancing act in which owners are required to take on a variety of different jobs – many of which have their own dedicated departments in large businesses.

But it’s important to realise you don’t have to go it alone. There are now a number of funding partners that support small businesses and help them get the right processes embedded to run it more effectively.

At Ashley Finance, we work with small businesses owners and help them with the multiple jobs they are juggling. Whether it’s getting a business owner the loan they need to stock-up on new technology to automate the customer service experience, invoice finance to provide ongoing capital and chase outstanding invoices, or even just providing some good old advice on simple accounting software or spreadsheets to model cash flows in and out.

Small businesses owners should know that limited resource doesn’t always have to equate to a greater workload or slowed profit growth. With a good solid business idea and the right partner almost any SME will be able to flourish.

SME Publications/ SME XPO 2024