Leading Small Business

Leading Small Business

There is a difference between those who start a business, and those who grow a business.  For many, the dream of entrepreneurship is born while in the throngs of employment for someone else; doing work they love while wanting greater autonomy and potential for greater pay.  

Doing the job and running a business that supports the fulfillment of the job are two different sets of skills. The differences can be summarized as one of a specialist and the other as leadership. The specialist typically has training and experience in a particular area such as hairstylist, carpenter, chef, engineer, etc.  As a business owner, the specialist needs to transform into a leader because in order to achieve anything of significance it requires the help of others.  To quote Kevin Kruse, “Leadership is a process of social influence, which maximizes the efforts of others, towards the achievement of a goal.”

An entrepreneur may also be someone who identifies a gap in the market, and moves quickly to exploit the opportunity.  They see needs and understand how to meet them in a way that produces a profit. Not all of them are good with people.  And being first is not the same as leadership. They could be brilliant, but that’s not leadership - you have to care.

Initially, a business starts so the owner can produce an income, however if the business stays in this mindset, they become another “me-too” establishment and will slowly fade out.  Those who have staying power are those who have grander ambitions of serving others with what they have to offer.  

Vision is foundational to leadership and to sustained success.  Entrepreneurs need a well-thought out vision that reaches beyond start-up; one that is inspiring, strategic, and practical. Vision ignites passion and invites others to join in on the pursuit. The hard part is actually getting your team members and employees to buy in to where you want to go and then working relentlessly to move that vision forward.

When it comes to actually getting things done and making progress in the areas that matter, it’s important to develop systems that support the achievement of business goals, and then follow them!  As an entrepreneur, your goal is to build a successful business. Your system is your processes for sales, marketing, fulfillment, operations, etc.  Having a system matters because committing to the process is what makes the difference.

Hire the right people. You have to grow your business. It is a misnomer to think people cost money.  A lack of production and failure to grow your business can cost far more.  Your business is as successful as the people working in it. Take your time, be discerning, and purposeful with who you recruit.  If you do make a hiring mistake, don’t wait to correct it.

When it comes to decision making, Brent Gleeson says, “Business leaders must master the ability to make good decisions quickly in order to keep the business moving forward. The best leaders, however, know when they need input from the team. Good leaders surround themselves with trusted advisors and subject matter experts, so that they can access a constant flow of data to make better decisions.”

Once a team is in place, it’s crucial to communicate well and often. Two-way communication builds relationships and trust which then lends to higher performance, loyalty, and sharing of innovative ideas.  Great leaders are able to convey their vision in a compelling way, not just once, and not just with some words on a wall. It’s expressed and demonstrated continuously in a variety of ways, particularly in a way that each team member sees themselves in the vision.

Want to grow your business further, develop your people. According to HR Magazine, leaders who cultivate an environment that is conducive to growth and learning opportunities, generate 24 percent higher profits than those that don’t. Investing in development also includes the leader.

People do what people see. When team members see the leader’s passion and commitment to going the extra mile, they will be more likely to do the same.  When a leader cares for people, they are willing to lend a helping hand, and inspire them to the desired results.  This attitude also manifests in the customer experience and loyalty.

When you’re in business, regardless of what type, you are in the people business. Learning to work with and through people is essential to long term success.  When leadership gets better, business grows, and life gets better.