It takes much more than a great idea to run a successful small business. Small businesses inherently start out with a small staff, so it’s up to the owner to possess a variety of leadership qualities that will ensure the profitability of the business. If you own a small business or are thinking of starting one, here are the leadership skills and qualities you’ll need to either bring to the table or acquire through leadership development coursework.
Ability to Assess and Vet Employees and Vendors
If you’re the type who’s a sucker for a pretty face, or who takes everyone at their word, look out. A savvy business owner knows that no business can prosper over the long term without good help. Whether that is hired help or contractors, everyone who performs a business service for you needs to be qualified to do that job well. (Learn more on hiring employees here.)
As a business owner you’ll need to make countless decisions on whom to hire, which resumes to pass on, and which employees need to be let go. From the office cleaning crew to the business accountant, you’ll have to learn how to review past experience, how to ask for references and how to track and measure job performance. Lastly, you’ll need to know how to assess whether an employee or contractor fits in with your business culture, because personality clashes can be just as disruptive as non-productive employees.
Ability to Manage a Team
As a small business owner, you might not yet have big, long-term projects to manage. You might not be assigning team members to projects, or having big conference room meetings. But when you think about it, anytime you have two or more people trying to accomplish something, that’s a team. So if your team is you and your spouse or you and a handful of employees, you certainly need to know how to manage them.
Team dynamics can be complicated. When you have multiple egos and a variety of backgrounds coming together, there’s bound to be discord. Everyone is not automatically going to join hands and be best work buddies. It’s up to you as the owner to unify the group so they coordinate and act as a team with one common goal or a set of goals that you provide. If you can’t manage your team, you’ll need to get leadership development training to learn how to do so.
How to Handle Obstacles
One of the first things you’ll learn as a small business owner is that not everyone wants you to succeed. Life, other business, the government or other people will put obstacles in your way that you’ll have to handle.
Now, every obstacle can be handled by either jumping over it, going around it, removing it or busting through it. You’ll have to decide how to handle each obstacle, and then find a way to get your team to follow you. If you are someone who crumbles in the face of adversity, or someone who loses their temper easily, that’s yet another hurdle you’ll need to combat.
How to Motivate People
Even after you hire the right people, you still have to find a way to get them to do what you want. The most talented people aren’t always the most motivated. Maybe they are on the job thinking about their girlfriend, or their kid’s football game, or counting the hours until they can go home. It’s up to you as the owner to find a way to get your employees motivated to perform the job you hired them to do. Motivating people is one of those leadership skills that can be learned. It’s a necessary leadership quality too, so you’ll need to master it.
These four leadership qualities will make you a better and more profitable small business owner. Once you have honed these leadership skills, you and your business will have a better chance at success.