There’s no question that starting a business is a big shift from life as an employee. But just how big a change is something many would-be entrepreneurs don’t realize until it’s too late…and they find themselves understaffed and overwhelmed.

To prevent your new business from getting off on the wrong foot, it’s important to take a closer look at all the myriad duties you’ll be handling. Unlike your job, where you probably focus on one thing (whether that’s sales or bookkeeping or administration), as a business owner you’ll be handling everything in your business. And I do mean everything.

Here’s a sampling of what you’ll be doing:

  • Administration: You’ll be answering the phone, filing out paperwork, mailing bills and dealing with insurance companies.
  • Accounting: Everything from bookkeeping and taxes to handling accounts payable and receivable—even collections—will fall to you.
  • Human resources: If you’re lucky enough to afford employees, you’ll have to find, hire and maybe even fire them…and keep on top of all the applicable laws.
  • Sales: Who’s generating leads and following up with them? Who’ll be negotiating deals, writing proposals and closing the sale with a contract? That’s you.
  • Marketing: Every aspect of your marketing plan, from social media and advertising to event planning and PR, will be on your shoulders.
  • Fulfillment: Who’s going to be in charge of warehousing your product, inventory control and sending orders out to customers? You are.
  • IT: No more calling the IT guy at your job—you’ll have to troubleshoot your computer yourself, not to mention selecting and installing technology for any employees.
  • Customer service: Who they gonna call with complaints or questions? You.

Whether it’s the office toilet overflowing or CNN calling to interview you about your business, you’ll be the one dealing with the issue. Are you ready to handle them all?

Few people have the skills to play all of these roles, so before you launch your business, it’s important to assess what you can do, what you need to do and what you have time to do.

Can do: Which of these elements are you good at? Where does your experience lie?

Need to do: Which of these elements will make the most difference to your business success? These are the areas where you need to focus your efforts—or, if you lack skills or experience, find someone who can help.

Time to do: Even if you excel at everything above, there just aren’t enough hours in the day. You need to prioritize—what elements are most important for you to spend your time on? See if you can outsource or delegate the others.

There are many options for getting help with your startup—even for entrepreneurs on a budget. Enlist friends or family members, or consider hiring interns or using freelancers to save money. The mentors at SCORE can help you figure out which options will work best for you.

About the Author(s)

Rieva Lesonsky

Rieva is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a content and consulting company specializing in covering small businesses and entrepreneurship and

CEO, GrowBiz Media