Entrepreneurs typically wear lots of different hats.  In addition to being the CEO, they’re also the chief marketing officer, chief sales officer and chief customer service officer.  Oh, yeah, they are also chief administrative assistant, chief copying officer, and chief cook/bottle washer.  So the last thing most entrepreneurs want are any more hats to wear.  But as technology plays a more central role in businesses of all kinds, the following new roles may help your company grow enough for you to pass some of those other hats off to someone else.

Chief Exploration Officer

A great deal of technology advancements are going on at this very minute.  Some of these new tech tools and services are useless to us.  Actually, the vast majority of the development going on around us probably adds little value to what we’re trying to accomplish.  With that said, there still are a ton of technologies out there that can help us.  And many of these, thanks to the push to make software available as a service and the open-source movement which has made many products free, are just a few clicks away. So it’s important to carve a few minutes out of the day to understand what’s going on outside of your world to see what you new technologies you can  -- and should -- bring into it.  Using a service like Diigo allows you and your colleagues to easily share each other’s explorations. WE is typically smarter than ME, and it’s definitely quicker than ever today.

Chief Conversation Officer

Dale Carnegie’s landmark book, How to Win Friends and Influence People, may have been written seventy years ago, but the principals and concepts are as meaningful now as they were then.  And today’s technology tools really expand the scope of these principles.  One such principle is to communicate with others to help them solve challenges.  I recently was looking for a catchy name for a new blog I’m starting up.  I decided to use Twitter to ask for help with this.  I started “tweeting” back and forth with a complete stranger.  We then moved from Twitter to Skype to do some serious brainstorming.  And thanks to these tools, I have a cool new name (can’t reveal name right now -- sorry) for the blog.  But I also have a new collaborative partner and social networking friend.

Chief Media Personality Officer

You may think you’re in construction, medicine, sanitation, or maybe even the glamorous accounting industry. But in today’s Web-driven world, not only are you running these kinds of companies, but you’re also running a media firm of sorts.  That’s because your customers and prospects are turning to the Web to find businesses to help them out.  And if you are a small business owner, then you ARE the small business.  So it’s important for you to be featured in content that will drive prospects to you.  You can become a talk show host for free by using BlogTalkRadio.com to have conversations with experts in your field.  Or you can “livestream” a video broadcast on Ustream.tv so people can see you in action.   Your goal as “CMPO” is to position yourself in such a way as to stand out from the pack, and make people “like” you enough to reach out to you when they’re in need.

Chief Dashboard Officer

Being heavily involved in the customer relationship management (CRM) industry, I’ve grown very fond of dashboards.  They’re a great way to keep a pulse on what’s going on.  But they’re typically focused on traditional areas related to sales, marketing, and forecasting.  And while these are critically important, in today’s Web 2.0 era there are a ton of other indicators that are important to follow, like:

  • E-mail/ Blog subscriber trends
  • Number of comments per blog entry
  • GQ (Google Quotient) -- how many times you show up in searches on important keywords
  • How many YouTube views, podcast downloads, or webinar participants
  • How many times your content is Dugg, Stumbled, Mixxed, Tweeted, etc.

While it’s still pretty difficult to tell how these actions impact the bottom line, they are a part of the new metric system.  People are using these metrics, and many others, to judge the effectiveness of their content in captivating the attention of those they wish to build relationships with. 

Some people think having too much information may be detrimental to making decisions.  CDOs know that having lots of good information, arranged properly and displayed visually, makes their jobs easier.

Chief Audacity Officer

Following up on a previous article, it takes audacity to captivate customers and prospects today.  Committing audacious online acts can really set you a part, if you take the time to think of interesting ways to engage your audience.  The folks at Jigsaw upped the ante – coming up with an audacious business act, and then announcing it in a really interesting way.  Jigsaw, a provider of business information and data services, recently announced its Open Data Initiative -- allowing free access to company information listed on their site.  Giving away data that their competition charges for is a pretty audacious move.   So was the YouTube video they put together to announce the move -- with CEO Jim Fowler donning an 18th century costume, complete with a powdered wig.  John Adams would have been proud.

Now you may not want to add all of these new roles to your existing job description, but many one or two of them can help you meet the challenges of running a small business in a Web 2.0 world.  It may be worth a little time to explore things a bit, even if you don’t end up being the chief exploration officer.

Brent Leary is a small-business technology analyst, adviser and award-winning blogger. Leary is also host of a weekly radio program heard on Business Technology Radio. His blog can be found at www.brentleary.com.