When I first started doing freelance work as a graphic designer, life was pretty simple. My daily routine consisted of finding clients who needed graphic design jobs and then producing the design work that I had gotten from my clients. As my business grew, I found my role as graphic designer decreasing and quickly transforming into the role of a manger and owner of a small advertising agency. It was a scary time for me. I was 24 years old and way outside of my comfort zone. Growth brings a unique set of challenges to an inexperienced small business owner. Especially one as ill prepared as I was. I had never had a class on running a small business, had little preparation in accounting, and had never even heard of strategic planning. During this time of rapid growth and business expansion, I would get frustrated because I was often unclear of the role I needed to fill. I had gotten into business because I was a highly skilled technician, not because I was a great manager. Everyday there were important decisions that had to be made about the business. I was sure that I was not making proper decisions and I worried about the future ramifications of those decisions. One day I sat down very frustrated and said to myself: I have to figure out what my job is. What do I do on a daily basis as the owner of this small business? The following is the result of that first strategic planning session in my head. I scrawled the following 3 job functions on a note pad.
1. Ensure Profitability
2. Strengthen Relationships (Clients & Vendors)
3. Market Effectively
It was a simple start. I later added 5 additional functions:
4. Direct Creative
5. Control Quality
8. Bring in Business
Finally, I crossed out Vision and brought it under #6 so it now read: Communicate the Vision.
I had a simplified set of job functions for myself as a small business owner. This piece of paper served to remind me not to get so caught up in the daily tasks at the business that I was not working on my business in the area, which I had outlined. I carried this piece of paper with me for several years. I had included a photo of the ragged-edged, stained note pad that I used to document my job as a small business owner. Today, It still serves as a reminder for me to pay attention to the most important job functions I have to manage in order to grow a successful small business.
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