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Startup boss: The different hats you’ll need to wear

Working at a startup sounds like every employee's dream, with a table tennis table, bean bags, and an effervescent and exciting culture to boot. However, when you're the boss of a startup a lot of responsibility can rest on your shoulders, particularly when you're first starting out. We take a look at some of the different hats you'll have to wear when you're sitting in the big chair.


If terms like positive cash flow, ROI, and EBIT have your eyes glazing over, then I've got bad news for you. When you're starting up your own business you're going to have to have at least a basic understanding of balancing the books. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS), approximately 40% of new businesses fail within the first three years. So, it can be crucial to have an idea of some basic account keeping principles. Having a basic understanding of your business' finances – and knowing how to manage your business' records – will help you communicate with your accountant when your business gets started. Meeting with a financial planner or accountant before your doors open – digital or physical – can set up some ground rules and give you an idea of what to expect.

Human resources (HR) Manager

Being your own HR Manager is the perfect opportunity to exercise the god complex you have, as all the responsibility for hiring and firing will rest at your feet. And while images of Mr Burns might spring to mind, a lot of pressure comes with hiring the right people to help you build your business. Hiring the wrong person can be very damaging to your fledgling startup, not to mention having to have a tough conversation when things don't work out.

Client Liaison Officer

There might be occasions when customers aren't satisfied with the product or service you've provided. So, when you're first starting out you'll need to be both the boss and the Client Liaison Officer i.e. customer service representative. It can be a challenge dealing with a frustrated customer, but remember, maintaining positive customer relations will help keep good word-of-mouth spreading and allow you to soon pay for someone to deal with customer service issues.

Marketing Guru

So, you've got a great new product that's going to revolutionise the industry, and a brand-spanking new website to boot. Now to tell all your potential customers about it ... *crickets*. As they say, failing to plan is planning to fail, which is why it's important to come up with a marketing plan to help you to engage your customers where they “live”. This might be through internet forums or via social media; you may need to devise a specific social media plan to help you make the most of whatever medium you choose to use.

Insurance Broker

It's what every new startup boss dreams of: that moment when you lock down a great Public Liability Insurance policy or get that new schmick Business Insurance cover. No? Ok, so thinking about Business Insurance may not have you doing cartwheels around the table tennis table, but having it can help to cover you from a whole range of unexpected events. For example, Public Liability Insurance can provide cover in the event of someone suffering an injury at your place of business – or an injury caused by your products or services. And Small Business Insurance can help provide cover for a range of issues, such as property damage, theft, or equipment breakdown.

Your startup boss hat-rack is going to be pretty full for the first year or so, before you can bring in some people to start wearing the hats for you. Fear not though, there are a range of resources out there to help lighten the burden for startup bosses. For example, the Australian Government's portal provides simple access to information and services for business owners. For insurance, have a chat with the team at AAMI to discuss your startup Business Insurance needs and rock your insurance hat with style. Get an AAMI Business Insurance quote online now, or give us a call on 13 22 44 (8.30am – 6pm AEST/AEDT, Mon-Fri).