You are a multi-talented, ambitious woman with many creative entrepreneurial strings to her bow. You get the joys and the privilege of running a business all by yourself – not having to answer to anyone, working on your own clock and following your passions and interests alone.
This also means that you do all of the things. You’re the one to set the strategy, execute on ideas and hold the purse strings. You are both the face of the business and the back office administrator.
When solopreneurs consider their skillset in the context of their business, it tends to be through the one or two skills that got them into business in the first place. A creative will harness their design prowess or way with words. A coach will attribute their people skills; an artist their eye for beauty.
But aside from your strengths, what about the other aspects that go into building a business?
Leave the finances unattended to, and you’ll soon encounter cash flow problems. Ignore sales and marketing, and your customer base dries up. Neglect legal and find yourself in uncomfortable expensive situations.
It helps to think of the different domains of your business as teams that would exist in a larger organisation. Can you assess the performance of the leaders of each of these teams based on their contribution to their function, and ultimately, your business a whole? Read on to learn what these leaders should be taking care of and how you judge their performance. As you go along, give each leader (sides of you) a review for their performance.
Chief Executive Office (CEO)
A solopreneur inherently considers themselves the CEO, but how would you judge the CEO if this was their only duty?
- Decision making – how are you making choices that affect the company direction? Are you committing to decisions once you have made them with conviction and ruthlessness?
- Strategy – have you considered how your business fits into the wider industry and fares against its competitors? Does your strategy stand up to scrutiny?
- Public-facing – Are you representing your business appropriately, with the right professionalism and personality?
- Advocacy & impact – what are you working on that creates positive impact and momentum in the wider world?
Chief Operating Officer (COO)
Operations are doing a good job when their role goes unnoticed. That’s because the lights are on and everything is working in order. When Operations has missed the mark, you start to notice the cracks. Are you ensuring your business has what it needs to tick over smoothly?
- Project Management – how are tasks being tracked? Are they being completed within reasonable time frames?
- Legal – are you protected? Do your contracts stand up?
- Office Management – how is your office space supporting your needs? Is it suitable for your business now and longer-term?
- Procurement – do you have access to the tools and products that enable you to do business effectively?
- Critical Thinking – as the COO are you providing adequate challenge to the CEO and applying critical Thinking to their decisions?
Chief Financial Officer (CFO)
Finance keeps your business afloat but its role should not solely be reduced to avoiding risk. Given the opportunity, finance can be a source of competitive advantage and innovation.
- Costs Analysis – do you have a handle on all of the outgoings in your business? Could any expenses be removed or renegotiated with suppliers?
- Forecasting – do you have a strong indication of money coming into the business and what that means for your bottom line?
- Investment – Have you reviewed all the possible sources of investment for the business and their pros and cons? Are you leaving any money on the table?
Chief Marketing Officer
Marketing is the act of communicating with those outside of your business. The CMO is responsible for every touchpoint that people might come into contact with externally.
- Awareness – what volume of people are aware of your business? Are they your target demographic?
- PR – what reputation does your business have, and how does it support your goals?
- Editorial – are you using words and stories to effectively portray your business and promote its work?
- Social media – how are your online channels representing your business? Do you need to redirect budget and energy towards anyone over others?
- Community – Are you engaging with the right brand advocates who will vouch for your business, attend your events, refer customers?
Chief Revenue Officer (CRO)
Customers are the lifeline of any business, and it’s the CRO’s role to take care of the customers (current and prospective) who will grow your top line.
- Sales – what is the current pipeline and future outlook in terms of your customers?
- Customer success – how effectively are your existing customers engaging with your products or services? Do they typically have a long lifetime value?
- Account management – how are you looking after your customers? Are you going above and beyond for them, responding to their contact in a timely manner?
Chief Product Officer (CPO)
Product is the actual goods or service that you are delivering to your customers.
- Research & development – how are you looking at the wider market for your offering and the trends that exist? What research or innovation should you be aware of?
- Testing – what level of review are you giving your product or service before it goes live with real customers?
- Customer feedback – how are you using your customers to learn more about what is and isn’t working well with your offering?
Chief People Officer (CPO)
Your CPO looks after your people, their performance, their growth and health & wellbeing. In a company of one, you have no excuse not to look after your number one person.
- Learning and development – do you develop yourself professionally on an ongoing basis? Do you invest in the right tools that will support your growth?
- Time off & sickness – do you know how much time you have taken off this year? Are you taking care of yourself when you fall sick? Do you have contingency plans that support the business if you take time off?
- Performance management – where are the wins and losses coming from in the business? Which of your management team needs some support?
- Recruitment – are you investing in the right skills who can support your business on a project or ad hoc basis?
Now you’ve reviewed all the distinct roles and functions that make up your business, what have you learnt about yourself?
As a coach and talent consultant, I’ve seen first hand how some people’s skills will lend themselves to certain functions over others. Whether you are naturally wired towards certain skills, or you’ve developed them over time, it’s common to be more enthusiastic about some parts of your business more than others.
But as a solopreneur, it’s your role to seek out information about where you might be falling short, and identify any themes in tasks you’re avoiding. Armed with this information you can make the right choices for your business’ needs, whether that’s hiring a freelancer or coach to support you where your gaps are holding you back from the success that might be available to you otherwise.
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About your author
Ellen Donnelly coaches people pursuing courageous career paths and is an experienced talent consultant having worked with many of London’s top startups to build their leadership teams. She combines her knowledge of professional and personal development to help people create their dream career & business.
You can find out more about Ellen and her business here.
I’m Samantha Jameson, the Founder of British hand, bath and body care brand, Soapsmith.
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