Owning a business comes with plenty of responsibilities. It can be overwhelming, and even confusing, to try to keep track of every little aspect of your business, the people working in that business, and the customers/clients that you serve.

Without some kind of framework for approaching these numerous responsibilities, they can become an obscuring cloud of details – where you can’t quite see the major themes because of so many disconnected, specific needs pulling you in different directions.

With that concern in mind, today’s message is about stepping back, observing the bigger picture, and turning that chaotic mountain of responsibilities into manageable categories that can guide your actions and priority setting.

From the broadest view, The Four Responsibilities of Business Owners are as follows:

  • Leadership (Motivation)
  • Management (Implementation)
  • Supervision (Enforcement)
  • Marketing (Customer Acquisition, Value Optimization, Retention)

You may already be having some ideas about what responsibilities fall under these categories, and that’s exactly the point. We’ll get into some specifics in a moment, but just based on those four major areas, you can begin to divide and conquer your mental list.

Seeing the different “buckets” can also help you understand that not all responsibilities are required at every moment. With categories (and their resulting subcategories), you can assess the needs of the business at any given point in time, and choose which category needs the most attention. They’re all important, of course, but separating complex, daunting tasks into categories and priorities will make them so much more manageable.

Now, what might these areas of responsibility contain? Every business is going to be a bit different, of course, but most of these responsibilities will apply to any and all business owners.

In the chart below, you’ll find plenty of examples under each heading. Your business may have other items that fall into these categories as well, but the important thing is to understand them as “themes” or focus areas.


Your leadership responsibilities are all about vision and motivation. That means having clear goals, ideas for how to achieve those goals, establishing (and maintaining) your company’s culture, and setting the tone for internal and external communication. Some of your “tasks” as a leader are concrete, but much of this responsibility depends on being an example for your team to follow, having ready answers to questions, and making the big decisions that will steer the ship in the direction you want to go.


Management responsibilities are practical. They include ongoing financial oversight, transforming ideas into actionable plans, setting policies, allocating resources, and all of the mechanisms that allow people to do good work, drive sales, and generate data to provide insight into the business as a whole.


Where management focuses on the business itself, supervision focuses on the people working within the business. These responsibilities include maintaining compliance, disciplinary action, employee acknowledgment, supporting a productive work environment, setting and meeting targets for staff, and when necessary, “policing” the actions of your employees. Much of this category is situational and day-to-day, but still requires an overarching strategy.


Last but certainly not least, marketing responsibilities are how your business positions itself in the marketplace, generates revenue, finds and retains customers, fulfills orders, and creates the relationships that lead to long-term profits. This can include everything from advertising strategies to determining ideal customer profiles. This area of responsibility integrates directly with management and supervision in terms of employee actions, but remains its own category in terms of strategy, budget, tools and technology, and overall messaging (among other things).

This quick overview of The Four Responsibilities of Business Owners should spark some serious thought about how you’re approaching each area, how they fit together, and which requires your most immediate attention. Being a business owner means wearing many different hats, but by putting these responsibilities into categories, you’ll be better equipped to proactively focus your attention, instead of reacting to each small item as a responsibility of its own.