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9 Key Roles to Hire for a Growing Small Business

key roles in a small business

A majority of small businesses in Australia are run by their owners and have no employees. If you’re one of these business owners, you probably wear many hats. But as your business grows, you will start thinking about when to hire employees and what roles are most important. To answer these questions we consider the key roles in a small business.

Personal assistant

Also called an administrative assistant, this is one of key role roles in a small business often added first. By covering day-to-day administrative tasks – such as answering the phone, setting up meetings, and organising paperwork – a personal assistant will enable you to focus on more important things. A growing number of small businesses are using virtual assistants who provide services from a remote location, which could be on a full-time or part-time basis.


Keeping track of finances is crucial for small businesses. If your books are not up to date, you won’t know where you stand with revenue, expenses and cash flow. While a bookkeeper will track day-to-day transactions and make payments for the business, an accountant will help with financial reporting and long-term strategy. For most small companies, a bookkeeper will only be needed on a part-time basis. As the company grows and the number of transactions increases, a full-time bookkeeper might be needed to keep financial records up to date.

Marketing expert

Whether they’re called a marketing manager or chief marketing officer, this person ensures that your products or services are noticed in the market and get purchased. A marketing all-rounder who can cover all aspects of marketing, including developing and implementing marketing strategy, managing social media, and developing creative assets, is often the best choice when a business is small. Later, as a business grows, more marketing roles can be added to fill more specialised marketing tasks. Many online and e-commerce businesses will opt to start off by hiring a digital marketing manager, or a social media marketing manager, who can focus on growing their digital presence and acquisition.

Sales and/or customer service staff

Sales and marketing go hand in hand, and depending on your business, you will need employees to handle the increase in enquiries or visits. Given the cost of getting people in the door or onto your website, it’s essential that you have the resources to turn prospects into customers. Sales and customer service staff can ensure that customers are able to get what they want, are happy with the experience, come back again, and tell their friends and colleagues. If you are just beginning to ramp up your marketing, you’ll want to start small to gauge the impact of sales and customer service staff.

Operations manager

In SMEs, this is a broad role that can cover monitoring and managing quality assurance; hiring, supervising and training staff; negotiating with suppliers; inventory management, monitoring and managing processes to boost efficiency; and anything else that ensures the smooth running of a business. As the business grows, some operations manager roles will be taken over by specialists such as human resource managers and procurement managers.

Product or service manager

If your business creates products or services, a product or service manager handles the development and delivery of these. Product development includes taking a product from the idea stage to finished product, while product management includes refining and improving the product over time.

General manager

This role is similar to that of operations manager, so both might not be included in a small business. General managers oversee the day-to-day operations of a business, including supervising staff. They can also be involved in short-term and long-term planning, develop policies and procedures, and direct staff productivity and performance. In some organisations, other managers (including the ones described here) will report to the general manager.

Human resources manager

As your business grows, a human resources manager will take on the responsibilities of finding, hiring, onboarding and training employees. Having a professional human resource manager will handle the hiring process to get the people with the right skills and attitudes that match your company culture. 

An important part of the HR manager role is determining what resources the business needs and creating job descriptions to hire employees who will meet those needs. They understand award rates and rules to avoid future problems with the fair work ombudsman. They will also determine whether you need to hire a part-time or full-time employee for each role. In general, a human resources manager will take the stress out of hiring employees for your small business.

IT manager

In a hyper-connected world, an IT manager will set up systems and ensure that they run smoothly. A business with more complex information technology needs will require more frequent updates and ongoing oversight. An IT manager can handle more complex tasks such as setting up and maintaining a network and staying on top of cybersecurity.

Consider the right time to hire key roles in a small business

Choosing when to bring in key roles in a small business is a big decision. The business has to be large enough and growing to ensure that it has the resources to pay new staff. While new staff can contribute to the growth of revenue and profit, there’s usually a gap between hiring new staff and seeing the results. Some businesses use unsecured business loans to get the working capital they need to bring staff on board. If you’re considering this option, check out our business loan calculator for an estimate for principal and interest repayments on a business loan.


Business content for Australian SMEs. Sharing guides, growth hacks, and expert tips on finance, sales and marketing, and tech.

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