How many hats should the small business owner wear?

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How many hats should the small business owner wear?


Small businesses are renowned for requiring both the owner and employees to wear multiple hats in order to create value and fulfill obligations to their customers. The trade-off for the business owner, in theory, is that they are able to reap the rewards of their efforts. It’s accepted that the added stress of the many responsibilities goes with the territory and is almost a badge of honor. However, the employee of a small business wearing multiple hats doesn’t enjoy the same rewards.

One of the trade-offs of people wearing “multiple hats” is that they are unable to focus on the primary job function and consequentially are prevented from tapping into their personal core competency. Additionally, they are not experts in the ancillary roles they are often expected to fulfill causing the small business to decrease its productivity and efficiency.

When an employee is required to dynamically shift his or her job responsibilities, confusion, frustration, and dissatisfaction can occur.  For example, the maintenance of a small business’s IT infrastructure often falls in the lap of either the controller or office manager.  Although the controller is an expert on how to use the accounting software, that knowledge does not make them an IT expert. Small IT problems cascade into larger ones, time is wasted researching solutions, and ultimately risk of IT failure increases over time as the health of the infrastructure erodes.

Although the business owner might expect to increase efficiencies by having people perform multiple job functions, the opposite is more likely to be occurring.  Rather than having trained professionals complete necessary task, the company is having unqualified employees perform in vital roles. Neither the company nor the employee will have satisfactory results.

In the above example, having an in-house IT department isn’t practical, However the cost and risk of not properly maintaining the infrastructure is too great. Therefore, the solution is outsourcing IT management to a Managed Service Provider. With Technology being one of the greatest concerns to small business owners, Managed Service Providers (MSP) provide value in following ways:


 Cost Efficiency:  

Having an in-house team to manage your security and network can be very expensive. Working with a MSP allows a small business owner to pay for only what they need, which costs much less than hiring a full-time internal team.

 Support Efficiency:

An MSP continuously monitors your computers and network for potential issues while providing 24x7 help desk support ensuring employees have the right tools to perform their jobs.

Scalability Efficiency:

As a small business grows, it will need a wide range of IT skillsets. That can be difficult to plan, costly to manage and very inefficient until you reach a certain scale. Adding, reallocating, or reducing resources or specialized skillsets is simple with an MSP.

Security Efficiency:

Security is one of the biggest technology risks for small businesses. As business grows, so do the risks and the subsequent consequences of security breaches. MSPs possess the expertise and resources to mitigate security risks and provide peace of mind.

Management Efficiency:

An MSP should provide their clients with easy to understand executive summaries and reports, so the small business can evaluate the performance of the MSP.

Additionally, the MSP provides virtual CIO /CTO services. The MSP should be a business partner and suggests ways to improve productivity and efficiency by implementing the latest technology tools.  


In short, small business owners attempt to maximize their human resources. However, if in doing so contributes to future problems (performance, morale, operations, customer support) and increases risk, then there is a need to reevaluate the ancillary duties being placed on employees. Everyone likes to wear hats, but if the hat clashes with the rest of the outfit, then it needs to go!