Everyone knows about some of the responsibilities of business owners. They have to pay their employees, pay their taxes, and make a profit for themselves and any investors they might have. They have to be open when they say they will be and perform the services they say they will perform. But these are only the well-known and obvious financial responsibilities for business owners. Any business owner can tell you that there are many other, less well-known, financial responsibilities for business owners.
The third-party services you will need depend, to some extent, on the type of business that you operate. If you’re a service company like a small law firm or insurance agency, some of your needs will be very different from those of a small manufacturing or repair service. As you read through this material, think about how your business operates, if you’re just starting, how you hope it will, and consider those services appropriate to your business.
Managing Your Physical Space
It’s easy to forget that an office doesn’t just happen. When you open a new office or a retail location, you will likely be dealing with one or more property management services. These companies handle the leases and find tenants for property owners. They also usually provide essential maintenance and building services – at your cost. They will explain what you can do in your space and what you can’t. They are usually the agent of the owner of the property owner and will be your day-to-day contact on all issues regarding the property as such.
Some of the services that the property management organization will probably handle are lawn and sidewalk maintenance, including snow removal, if applicable to your location. They may arrange for building-wide trash pick-up, or you may have to find your dumpster services. The property management services company often provides interior maintenance and cleaning crews, but there may be limitations on the cleaning services provided. For example, some building cleaning services will not clean locked interior offices. As a business owner, you will need to be sure that all necessary and desirable maintenance is performed or that you arrange to have it done.
After you get your space, you’ll have to fill it with the stuff needed to run your business. If this is a service business, you’ll probably have desks, shelves, chairs, and file cabinets (though fewer of these in an increasingly digital world). Someone is going to have to handle the furniture moving and getting equipment like copiers and printers in place. Ideally, you will know what you need in the way of equipment and furniture and have a more or less formal layout for those items before you begin moving into your space. A furniture moving service, which may or may not be part of your moving service or furniture delivery service, can help get everything adequately placed. These tasks are all included in the financial responsibilities for business owners.
Sometimes your lease requires you to maintain all or part of the physical plant. This is especially common in warehouses and manufacturing facilities. As a responsible business owner, you may be responsible for retaining an elevator maintenance service to ensure that the elevators stay in operation and are safe at all times.
The maintenance and repair duties are usually spelled out in your lease. If you have a ‘gross’ lease, the property owner is responsible for all expenses for the leased space. To the extent you are paying for such services, they are included in your rental payments. In a ‘net’ lease, on the other hand, you may be required to pay these expenses yourself or to reimburse the property owner for them. In a modified gross lease, the owner and tenant negotiate who is responsible for which expenses. In contrast, in a triple net lease, the tenant (you) simply pays for its pro rata share of all of the building’s expenses, including taxes, insurance, and defined operating expenses.
An absolute net lease is the most owner-friendly lease and, ultimately, makes you, the tenant, responsible for all risks and expenses associated with the premises, including all maintenance and repairs. If you’re on this kind of lease, you’ll want to be sure that you have a service and maintenance relationship in place before an emergency arises.
Similarly, you may be required to maintain the roof, which will require you to become familiar with commercial roofing. You’ll need to learn what works in your geographic area and how often to inspect and repair them. Working with respected local roofing contractors for inspection and maintenance services can keep you ahead of the game on this ongoing task.
In some areas of the country, you may also be responsible for septic services, especially in rural areas where city water and sewers are unavailable.
In addition to the necessary work discussed above, there are other maintenance and worksite services you want to be sure are in place. Any business, whether service or manufacturing, produces trash, and this trash is part of the financial responsibilities for business owners. That trash may be the remains from your manufacturing process or the paper trash that piles up in a service business. In either case, proper disposal is critical. In addition to making arrangements with a reliable local dumpster services company, you will want to ensure that anything that needs care is handled correctly.
Manufacturing businesses may deal with toxic byproducts or ingredients or require special handling for disposal. It may be that your dumpster services company can handle this sort of specialized waste, but you’ll want to be sure that you can handle it early on.
Service businesses produce tremendous amounts of paper trash, including personally identifiable non-public information about your customers. The law makes you responsible for protecting that information, so you want to ensure that you have access to shredding or recycling, often provided by your dumpster services company, that will adequately destroy any paper with client information on it. Likewise, you want to ensure that such records are stored in a secure space until your disposal service picks them up. While it may seem an unnecessary expense to pay for shredding, the sheer quantity of documents you are dealing with and the time consumed by having staff manually shred them will quickly make the economies of using a service very clearly.
Another routine maintenance issue arises if you have any company vehicles. Although oil changes are not hugely expensive or time-consuming, when a fleet of vehicles, such as delivery trucks or company cars, is at issue, the costs in money and person-hours can build up quickly. Striking a deal with oil changing services will put this task into your set-it-and-forget-it column. The oil change service keeps records of its periodic changes and does them as needed. Maintenance issues like these are integral to the financial responsibilities for business owners.
Returning to the warehouse environment, there or in a big box store, you will be confronted with maintaining and servicing other types of equipment. For example, if you move a lot of large products or pallets of product, you’ll be using forklifts frequently. You should engage with a forklift service and repair company to keep that vital equipment at its peak. Having a contract in place for regular service and maintenance will make emergencies less likely and get them responded to more quickly.
Filling the Space With People
Once you’ve selected the right space and filled it with furniture and equipment, it’s time to begin filling it with people. Using an emotionally attached stuffed animal for this purpose may have been wise when you were a toddler, but it is not the best use of your time. A job placement management service could be beneficial in this regard. Let them know the job you want to do and let them handle selecting the right candidate.
It’s important to know that, at least initially, you will probably be your own human resources department. Functioning this way can, however, be expensive in time and money. HR is a complex business with many legal pitfalls that you, as a small business owner, can’t know thoroughly and, frankly, don’t really want to know. An alternative is to use the outsourced human resources department. Offering a full range of HR services from policies to payroll, these companies can help you limit your liability as a hiring company and save you time and money in dealing with HR issues such as payroll, paid time off, recordkeeping, and your employee handbook.
You will want to draft and maintain written job descriptions for each job that needs to be filled. Not only will these be extremely helpful to any job placement services you work with, but they will also help you match applicant skills and experience to your open position. Plus, a written description provides consistency in dealing with candidates that can protect you from potential discrimination litigation.
It’s also important to consider keeping, close at hand, some sort of weapon for self-defense. In employment today, it’s easy to forget how many disgruntled former employees or applicants have returned to a workplace with violent intentions. If you’re not comfortable with self-defense — and many rightfully won’t be — make sure to have an emergency plan to avoid violence and contact law enforcement personnel.
Depending on your location and its proximity to other businesses, you may want to consider providing food services to your employees. A subsidized cafeteria or food service can be a valuable perk for your employees and support you as you tackle the financial responsibilities for business owners.
Today’s business environment requires that marketers have a wide variety of skills. To effectively market your company, you need to be able to design and maintain a website and know how to produce content from emails to eBooks to keep new customers coming in. If you don’t have a website, you are essentially invisible to much of the younger customer base. They research and shop online and will miss you if you’re only in older forms of the media.
On the other hand, you started your business because you were a good service provider or knew how to make a great widget. Unless your business is a web design and content preparation, you’ll want to consider outsourcing those tasks. The internet is full of people offering web design, and freelance content producers and writers are available as individuals or through companies providing content services to a broad customer base.
Some marketing companies specialize in specific industries, like law, financial services, or medicine. In contrast, writing and editing specialists offer a group of contracted and tested writers who can choose – or be chosen by you – to write your particular projects, whatever the subject might be. Whichever type of content-producing company best suits your needs, it is probably less expensive and far more productive in terms of results to use one of these services until your business is large enough to warrant a full-time website and content production marketing position.
Dealing With Money
Assuming you make money, it’s time to think about recordkeeping and other financial tasks. Do you have enough work for a full-time accounting person, or does it make more sense to use an accounting service? As with third-party HR companies, accounting services offer cafeteria plans that let you choose just the services you need. There are even services that specialize in servicing small businesses. This experience and experience will be invaluable to you without bringing in a full-time staff member.
You, As the Responsible Business Owner
As you’ve seen, there are lots of jobs to be done that you didn’t consider when you first set up your new business. The financial responsibilities for business owners extend far beyond simply overseeing the central operations of your business. You have to do or get done all the peripheral jobs less well-known as business owner responsibilities. You should have an idea of how to do that now.