Small businesses are critical to the American economy, generating two-thirds of new private-sector jobs nationwide, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration. Additionally, as of April 2014, nearly 15 million professionals identified themselves as self-employed, according to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.
If you are an entrepreneur who aspires to business ownership, you may boost your chances for success by obtaining a solid business education and up-to-date skills.
A business owner’s job duties can run the gamut from hiring staff to arranging financing. Specific activities will vary according to the business’ category, size and industry. Daily job duties might include reviewing sales reports and financials, and comparing them to goals set out in short- and long-term plans. Owners can then direct activities of sales or production employees to better meet the objectives. In general, business owners are responsible for the growth, stability, direction and daily operation of the business.
First, potential owners must create a business plan that includes a description of the product or service, how to finance the business (loans, investors), deadlines for the business and the overall goal. A business plan is usually the first task when launching a small business, followed by marketing plans, production plans, sales forecasts and budgeting plans. Some business owners create sales plans each month, marketing plans each quarter and overall business plans each year.
Additional job duties for a typical business owner include meeting with service vendors or product suppliers to facilitate delivery. They may also make buying trips to purchase inventory. Depending on the size of the business, the owner may create sales displays and even stock the shelves. Small business owners may have to do everything from sweeping the front sidewalk to meeting with local officials or dignitaries.
Financials are the lifeblood of a business, so owners must be familiar with profit-and-loss statements and other financial reports. Setting a budget and then comparing actual income and expenditures is a vital aspect of the business owner’s duties. Other responsibilities include reviewing sales reports and adjusting sales activities or expenses to better meet budgets.
Business owners must be prepared to hire, train and mentor staff. They are required to know the federal and state laws and regulations concerning employees, and to file Social Security and wage reports for each employee. Some business owners hire accountants or human resources consultants to handle these activities. Others personally manage all the accounting, taxes and required reporting duties for their business.
Smart marketing helps a business stand out in a crowded field. Creating advertising campaigns, social media campaigns and face-to-face events are typical activities business owners undertake to deliver their message to the right audience. Marketing activities may also include networking, direct sales and entertaining clients.
A business owner’s work environment depends on the type of business, industry and product or service. Typical locations include retail storefronts, commercial office space, private offices, production facilities or a home office.
Although it’s possible to become a business owner without advanced education or training, enrolling in a degree program can provide individuals with the tools for survival and success in a competitive marketplace. For example, a Bachelor’s in Business Administration Management program typically covers coursework such as principles of management, business ethics, international management, principles of marketing and business plan research.
Students who have earned a BA in Business Administration should be able to:
Earning a business degree can help entrepreneurs build a solid foundation of business acumen, technical skills and proven practices that can be applied in daily operations. Additionally, time-management and people skills can be important attributes, along with operational skills such as bookkeeping and marketing.
Being a business owner can be a great career move if you are independent, self-motivated and possess excellent interpersonal skills. You’ll also need a strong work ethic and the ability to adapt to a variety of situations.