Through working with hundreds of different small businesses I meet a lot of different types of leaders. Some business leaders are good, some bad and some are flat out outstanding. What separates a good leader from a great one? This is a tough question to answer with many different opinions on the matter. Here is what I think are the five main qualities of outstanding small business owners.
One huge trait of excellent leaders is that they are very aware of themselves. Great leaders understand that they have strengths and weaknesses and are always aiming for self-improvement. Some leaders are very arrogant and believe they are always right. Arrogance does not promote innovation.
It can be difficult for some people to be critical of themselves. Looking at the way you lead and the positives and negatives of your approach is not an easy task. Great leaders are always looking to improve upon their leadership style. Understanding your weaknesses and correcting them takes a lot of self-reflection and discipline.
Willing To Ask For Help
Although some leaders can be critical of themselves and their strengths and weaknesses, they may not always be willing to ask for help to work on their weaknesses. This comes back to being bull headed about their ways. Some leaders believe it is their way or the highway and this can be counterproductive to growth. Additionally when you are completely stuck in your ways it can be difficult to get your key team members to see and adopt your vision. Great leaders understand their weaknesses and they are willing to ask for help. Some business owners may be great at acquiring new customers but terrible at handling the finances. Understanding that there are other people out there that are better at certain aspects of your business is important. Even more important is the willingness to ask for help when you need it.
Understand Business Finances
I often ask business owners this question: If you could start your business over today what would you do differently based on your past experience? There are many different responses to this question but a common one is they wish that they had been more involved in their bookkeeping and finances from the beginning. Exceptional business leaders understand that the finances of their business are important. Of course they recognize that there are many important facets of their business, but the finances of the business are the backbone. Good business leaders understand that bookkeeping can help the business grow. Smart business owners know that they must have solid financial reports to apply for a business loan or line of credit. Additionally businesses seeking investors understand the importance of keeping their bookkeeping investor ready.
Hiring The Right Employees
The success of your business relies heavily on the people you choose to help run it. Great leaders understand the importance of hiring people that are smarter than them. They also understand that they need to pay employees well, empower them, and offer them incentives. Rather than pay employees as little as possible good owners pay them an aggressive but fair wage. Employees that are empowered are productive employees. Rather than sitting back waiting to be told what to do, they are doing what is right for the business. Lastly, offering your employees some sort of incentive is incredibly important. Many owners take the wrong approach to employee incentives by throwing money at them until they seem like they are happy. Rather than taking that approach why not ask your employees what they actually want? Understanding your employees dreams and helping them reach them can be extremely rewarding to both the employee and employer.
They Dream Big
Top notch leaders dream big. They are never satisfied with their ideas, always wanting to push the limits. They believe there is always a better way. They don't stop. Probably the easiest thing you could ever do in your small business is to quit. There are so many times where you are tempted to give up. On difficult days you ask yourself: why am I in business?Am I better off giving it all up for something simpler?
Great leaders never stop dreaming. It could be a new product or service, perhaps even a different avenue. They push their ideas beyond the norm to something that is truly extraordinary. When you dream big you push yourself, your team and your business to new heights and you win.
What qualities do you believe make up an exceptional small business leader?