When you think of key personnel, you most likely picture a company's CEO, vice president and other key management personnel, meaning the people who are at the top and have a say in the company's long-term strategy and overall operations.

While small businesses usually do have such top executives, they also have other types of key personnel – including low-level to mid-level managers and regular professional staff – whose duties might involve carrying out top-level strategy, leading their departments or even performing operational work. Knowing types of key personnel and their duties can help you structure your company's workforce.

Top Officers and Key Personnel

The top executive position in a small business is usually the company's president or chief executive officer. This person's duties include directing the whole organization, formulating the business's long-term strategy, serving as the company's spokesperson, guiding daily operations and creating a company culture that serves its intended vision. The president or CEO can also take on additional duties such as recruiting workers, managing the company's finances and seeking expansion opportunities.

Small businesses can also have vice presidents and other chief officers who answer to the CEO or president. One key personnel example is the chief operating officer, whose duties involve directing and organizing daily operations.

You can also find department-specific roles such as the vice president of marketing, chief financial officer and vice president of production. These roles help execute top-level strategies from the president or CEO, lead their specific departments and work with the top executive to seek internal and external opportunities to improve the company.

Other Key Management Personnel

While they're not considered top executives, departmental managers are key personnel in small businesses since they provide key duties that keep the company running efficiently and smoothly.

For example, a quality control manager's duties are to ensure the company's products turn out safe and functional and adhere to industry and governmental regulations, while a marketing manager leads advertising campaigns and helps find ways to promote products to increase customer awareness. An office manager can handle a range of duties involving processing company payroll, helping with recruitment, doing clerical tasks and creating reports for management.

Other key managers you might find in a small business include shipping managers, purchasing managers and operations managers. While shipping managers maintain the company's warehouse and ensure that orders are transported effectively, purchasing managers deal with purchasing inventory from vendors, following production budgets and handling vendor contract issues. Operations managers can perform similar duties as some executive officers and key personnel since they are involved in human resources, business planning, financial management, business analysis and legal compliance.

Other Key Professional Staff

A small business has nonmanagement professionals who are also key assets for the company's success. Some of these positions include:

  • Accountants: This role is essential for monitoring the company's financial status and involves analyzing financial data, creating reports, handling transactions, implementing security controls and handling the company's taxes.

  • Human resources professionals: While top managers have a say in the hiring process, HR professionals assist with recruitment, training, performance management, employee relations issues, compensation and employee policies.

  • Marketing professionals: When the company decides to offer a product or service, these professionals are the ones who come up with how to make them appealing to customers as well as advertising methods and how to set the price.

  • IT professionals: These professionals are crucial to small businesses whether they keep the business's systems running, secure confidential data, run the company's website or ensure good performance of company networks. In small businesses in the technology sector, their presence is even more crucial.

  • Sales representatives: Companies that sell products or services need quality sales representatives who can reach out to interested buyers, answer customers' questions, close on sales and collect payments for purchases.

  • Creative staff: Content creators such as writers and video editors have a key role in presenting important information about the company in an appealing way, while graphic designers focus on visuals seen in advertising materials and on the web.