Practical Leadership Tips for Small Business Owners

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Starting a small business means you’re on your own or even a partner for a significant period while setting up the venture’s framework. 

Once the business plan is rock solid, orders are coming in, and fulfilment/time management becomes a problem, it’s time to make what might be your most important investment: staff.

Until now, you have been doing most, if not all, of the work your small business requires. From now on, it’s time to start delegating and overseeing the work of others. 

It’s time to start managing!

Whether you know it or not, you’ve placed yourself in a leadership position that shouldn’t be taken lightly.

The first and most important thing to understand about leadership is that it should be chosen, not bestowed or forced upon. Reluctantly accepting leadership in your small business will likely lead to a begrudging attitude towards those you’re teaching. 

Handling the burden of leadership

Chances are this small business is your pride and joy, especially if it’s your first. Why ruin it with an ownership style you aren’t ready for? 

If leadership starts becoming a burden on your, there are a few things you can do about it to solve the issue immediately:

  1. Town back growth. Keep the business at a size where you can control it yourself. It may sound counterintuitive, but growth may only lead to collapse if you aren’t prepared to carry it.
  2. Pursue leadership knowledge. If you’re driven enough to embody leadership, you’re likely to become your own leader.

Remember that a transition period is important. Do not hire and step straight into your role as a dictator (ideally, never become one!), but rather understand that before hiring, you must be able to translate your business model to those you’re leading so that they can conduct business in front of customers appropriately.

Clarity your business vision

If your business and its goals make sense in your head, but you can’t explain it clearly to your staff, then you need to reconsider whether your plan is clear enough to inspire others to follow it.

To help with gaining clearer clarity of what your business vision is, you can try the following:

  1. Explain your business to a child. If you know one, seriously try this. If your little brother, nephew, student, etc., understands what it is that you do, then an employee certainly will, and you can build the complexity slowly from there.
  2. Preach at gatherings. Dinner parties, weddings, birthdays and so on are excellent places to rehearse how you frame what your business is comprised of to friends and strangers. If you notice people getting bored, you know what to rework the next time you explain it. Practice makes perfect!

Lead through trust and understanding

Your employees are more than just worker bees. They have intricate lives and daily ordeals. Practice the following each day you interact with your eomployees:

  • Don’t just learn their names; learn their partners’ names.
  • Hear them out if they have problems.
  • Understand their trials and tribulations.
  • Celebrate their achievements in and out of the workplace. 
  • Take an interest in their outside lives. 
  • Find common ground in hobbies and personal interests. 
  • Organise outings and gatherings so that your workforce also feels like family.

Ensure your employees want to be there every day

This is key in ensuring the employees of your small business want to be there every day. 

Progressive strategies to employ include:

  • Try to start a conversation based on something spoken about the day before. If someone told you their child was sick, check in the next day and ask how they are.
  • Set up a personal birthday calendar without your employees knowing, surprise them with a small gift cake, or secretly remind everyone else to wish them a happy birthday so they feel special. It’s simple, inexpensive and goes such a long way.

Leadership is the pinnacle of running a small business. “Leader” is not a manageable title to attain, and it takes a lifetime to perfect. Still, we all remember one boss or another we’ve had who was incredible to work for because they led by using tricks they had concocted and personalised themselves.

We also remember them for the relationships they formulated with us that lasted even though we may have moved on and lost contact. Their impact is a lasting reminder of what we should strive for with our workforce as leaders in small business.

Above anything else, running a small business should be a positive experience. If it doesn’t feel like one, consult these suggestions and find where to improve.

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