If you want to be an amazing small business leader, you need to develop certain skills. However, there are some characteristics that all great business leaders have. Here is my advice on what six items you should be working on to become a great small business leader.
1. Educate Yourself And Others
If you are the leader of your business, people will come to you for help. Employees will certainly look to you for advice when they are unsure what to do. If you run a successful business, your professional network may even seek help from you on certain issues. You will have to be prepared to educate or help other people when they ask for your input.
While a big part of being a leader is educating others, another huge part is educating yourself. Successful entrepreneurs will tell you that one big thing that helps them is some sort of routine or outlet away from the business. That outlet may come in the form of daily trips to the gym or regular morning routines such as meditating.
One great way to educate yourself is to read. I read lots of books, magazines, and blog articles; I even consume videos. Finding good content to digest will help you educate yourself as well as others. Another great way to educate yourself is to ask people intelligent questions. If you are struggling with something in your small business, chances are someone else has faced that challenge and figured out a solution. Having a strong business network or a business mentor can help you with your personal business education.
2. Articulate Your Vision And Inspire Employees
Another skill you need to develop in order to lead effectively is the ability to articulate your vision to your employees and inspire them to help you fulfill it. Most entrepreneurs know where they want to go; what they struggle with is how to get there.
Having a vision statement written down will increase the chances of it being realized someday. A written vision statement also makes it easy to communicate your vision to employees and get them on board with it.
3. Have Empathy For Employees
Another characteristic you need is empathy; specifically for your employees. Employees tend to lose interest in your business when they think you don't understand how they feel. You should regularly ask your employees how things are going. What do they like and dislike? What are their long-term goals?
Having regular employee reviews (I really hate the phrase "employee review" and would rather call it an "open conversation") can really help you understand your employees. It also shows your employees that you care about them. Don't just bombard them with things they need to improve upon; rave about their successes as well. Set goals for your employees and follow up with them on a regular basis on their progress.
4. Maintain A Positive Attitude
It really sucks going to work every day for someone who is negative. Running a small business can be extremely hard and everyone has bad days. Not to mention that you have a personal life that can affect your attitude at work.
Maintaining a positive attitude is crucial to you being an effective leader and running a successful business. It can be tough to be positive when things are clearly going really badly for the company. However, you need to rise above the negativity, maintain a positive attitude, and keep your business on track toward its goals.
5. Get Great At Hiring
Having the ability to attract and retain top talent is absolutely critical to being a good business leader. Without a strong team, your business won't be ready to scale.
Great business leaders know the importance of hiring and spend a significant amount of their time working on hiring the very best people they can find. If you are going to run a great business, you have to get very good at hiring the best people.
6. Develop The Ability To Make Difficult Decisions And Execute
Being the leader of a small business is stressful and hard. In his book, The Hard Thing About Hard Things, Ben Horowitz puts it brilliantly, "Hard things are hard because there are no easy answers or recipes. They are hard because your emotions are at odds with your logic. They are hard because you don't know the answer and you cannot ask for help without showing weakness."
Great small business leaders are great because they have the ability to make very hard decisions and execute on them. There is no manual for your specific business on how to be successful. Great leaders have the ability to quickly assess problems, make decisions, and execute on their plans.