The Two Main Roles All Small Business Owners Serve

I read and see a lot of business stories about the different personality types of entrepreneurs and small business owners, especially their fancy titles, such as “Chief Idea Guru,” “Chief Evangelist” or “Chief Executive Unicorn.” But a title is merely a title, without the underlying personality of the person performing that job.

In my experience, business owners need to keep it simple and divide their responsibilities into two roles: Order Acquisition and Order Fulfillment.

The Order Acquisition people are the business developers, sales people, and inside sales people who are primarily involved with finding new business, servicing current customers, and customer service. Often, this role is filled by the owner of the company, at least in the beginning.

The Order Fulfillment people are the team members who make the business run from management of team members and day-to-day operations to internal reporting and human resources. They may also be involved in customer service for more detailed issues. These roles may be filled by people who started in the business with you, and have advance to senior-level positions as your company grows.

As a small business owner, you will initially wear both hats, but eventually you will naturally gravitate towards one role or the other. Instead of fighting your natural tendencies to do what you love, you will need to find ways to delegate the other role to someone else in the company who you trust, or outsource the tasks that you don’t enjoy doing (such as accounting and payroll).

As I see it, most small business owners demonstrate a combination of these key traits, and they should find ways to nurture and enhance the skills that they enjoy:

Order Acquisition Order Fulfillment
The “Face” of the company.

Enjoys meeting people and having conversations with prospective customers.


Would rather spend time outside of the office meeting people and networking.


Works on sales, business development, and simple customer service issues.

The Backbone of the company

More comfortable working with internal staff and suppliers.


Wants to stay in the office working at a desk or in the business.


Only get involved in the more complex customer service issues.

A successful business needs capable people in both roles. As I have said in my previous blog post, a partnership isn’t always a good idea, especially if both partners gravitate towards the same role in a company. If you are a sole proprietorship or some other corporate structure, it will be increasingly important for you to have a plan to hire employees or outside resources to handle the other role.

Which role do you gravitate towards, and Why? Please let me know in the comments below.