September 30, 2022

Owner, Not Manager to Manage Your Small Business

How does an owner run a business?

From a staff point of view, given a choice, do you prefer a salaried manager to run the business or would you rather the owner to boss you around?

When an owner starts a business, at the startup level, it is very common for the owner who manages everything, from answering the business call to cleaning the office. This is the time when the owner already has a clear vision of what and how the business will move. When money starts coming in, he begins to hire people who can help him getting to the next milestone.

If you had ever joined a startup company, you would remember how aligned you are with the vision of the owner during meetings and discussion. There was no barrier of communication because the one who is crafting the visson is the one who communicates it. Everything just feels aligned provided that the owner is good at communicating it.

At this infancy stage it is crucial to survive and grow. Operations have to be simple. Team motivation needs to be at the highest possible level to break to the next barrier. Decisions have to be fast. In order to achieve this, it is so much easier to report to one person who makes all the decision and the best person is the owner who knew his business like the back of his hands.

Below is the mindset and common rule of thumb of an owner who manages his own business:

  • Do Whatever “Needs to Be Done”

Business owners are responsible for everything. It is just natural for them to make sure everything works and all overheads are paid every month. If you are working with a business owner right now and pushing you to the limit, this is basically why.

  • Negotiate Everything

Every dollar matters when a business owner is growing a business.  They usually never accept the first offer and always ask for better value in the deal.  

  • Cash is King

All business owners know this well; cash is the lifeblood of the business.  They will never risk your capital where the upside potential isn’t proportional to the downside risk.  Success comes to those who are able to stay in the game the longest.

  • Never Rest on Your Laurel   

When the business owner started to rest in his laurels or too satisfied with what he has already achieved and makes no further effort, this is when everything will fall into pieces. High standards are good and sometimes they should be impossibly high. Because if he feels too satisfied with the current effort, it will likely lead to very unsatisfactory results.

  • Do It Now!

Great business owners know what to do and when to do it. They also have heightened sense of urgency to complete them right away.

  • Build Something to Pass On

Some business owners run their business because they want time flexibility and more money. The great ones want to build companies that stand the test of times. They want to build a legacy that can be passed from one generation to another. This mindset creates the extra push to the owner’s motivational level.

But when it gets bigger…

But as the business grow bigger and bigger, the business just needs to hire more and more people to cope with the expansion. Business expansion comes with more challenges such as

  1. Keeping up with the market
  2. Planning ahead
  3. Cash flow and financial management
  4. Finding the right systems (standard operating procedures or work systems and flow)
  5. Managing talent especially their attitude, personalities and working style

The next question is, when should an owner of business needs to hire more people? Here are some of the answers based on interviews with small business owners.

1. When work seems endless

When it feels like a never ending day, for example if the owner started work at 9am and by 10pm the same day but there is still a pile of work not done every day, this is a clear indication that he needs to hire someone. It’s time to bring someone else handle the repetitive but important work

2. When focus is an issue

When you’re stretched for time, the quality of work and work-related decisions will suffer. There will be one error after another, not because the owner doesn’t know how to execute the work but because he is unable to put enough focus in the work. This is when the owner needs to delegate the less important functions so they can free themselves up to focus on the key elements of the business. This will allow the owner to focus on the big picture, which is vital in the survival of the business.

3. When the owner is not creating

When the owner feels like he is firefighting rather creating, it is time to hire help. The owner should look at how he is spending his working time. If his hours are mostly spent to solve one crisis after another on a daily basis, this is a classic case of firefighting. The owner should give more focus on strategic development, identifying new opportunities and building strategic relationships.

4. When the business keeps on growing

The best time to hire a manager is before the owner starts your next level of growth. Depending on business, operations manager might be the first manager to hire if the owner wants to see productivity growing while he is focusing on work related to company growth. As the owner of a company, he should be focusing on pitching new partnerships and securing investments when the company is growing.

5. When someone can do it better

There are many things a business owner can do well but he needs to know what he does best and delegate other work someone else can do better. As the founder/leader of a company, he is usually best served in leading, managing big-picture operations and pitching.


Managing a business as it expands requires different types of manager and management team. An owner can run the business and be the CEO at the same time when the business is still small and manageable. However, as it grows, he will not be able to handle it on his own anymore. Imagine if a giant company like McDonalds which have presence in almost every country in the world, the owner would not be able to manage everything on his own. He needs to delegate most of his duties to other people to ensure it runs smoothly. Even when it comes to business capital, he even needs support from shareholders and investors to make sure the business has enough money to expand and dominate a certain market.

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