Seven leadership skills you need in a small business

Do you own or run a small business? Read seven skills you need to possess in order to confidently lead your company to success.

When you run your own company, you’re not just the leader of your business, you are your business. And that business can only be as good as you.

So if you want to achieve your goals, you need to make sure you’re the best possible leader you can be. And that means ensuring you have these seven essential traits.

1) Motivation

We all have those days when we really don’t want to get out of bed. When we’d rather lie on the sofa under a duvet watching TV all day. Or just do anything rather than work.

But when you run your own business, you can’t afford to take your foot off the accelerator. You need to find the motivation from somewhere to turn up at work day after day and just keep going.

Because if you don’t, not only will your business slowly grind to a halt, but you’ll infect your staff with the same lack of drive. After all, why should they put their heart and soul into your business if you’re not doing the same?

So find a way to stay motivated that works for you – it may be reminding yourself of your goals, reading others’ stories of success, or getting an accountability partner – and make sure you use it when you need to.

2) Communication

In a small business, great communication skills are essential. Unlike in a larger organisation where you have teams of people honing and delivering your messages to your staff and the wider world, you are the PR machine for everything you do.

It’s you who mixes at networking events, with the opportunity to impress new clients, suppliers and even investors. (Or, conversely, to put them off.)

It’s you who decides on your marketing messaging and brand tone of voice – essential for the growth of your business.

And it’s you who builds a passionate team of employees who believe in, and are loyal to, your business and you. Or who alienates and disempowers a miserable collection of workers who hate what they do and would rather be anywhere else than in your office. (And produce work with a matching lack of passion and care.)

So make sure you’re a great communicator. And if you suspect that you may need to work on your communication skills (including body language) don’t be afraid to seek help.

3) Vision

Business development expert Brian Burke says:

The company’s personnel should have a clear understanding of the goals and objective of the company as well as the understanding of your vision.

When you define and explain your company vision to your employees, they’ll have a sound foundation to translate it into results.

So make sure you’re clear on exactly what your vision for the business is, and communicate to your team not just what that vision is, but how they can help realise it, and the rewards they can expect for doing so.

And do listen to feedback from your staff, and make them feel included in the process. (Read tips on how to get employees excited about your company vision.)

4) Passion

Passion for your business will keep you going through the inevitable tough days and weeks that come with being an entrepreneur. It will also help you to make more intuitive decisions about your business.

But more more than that, passion is vital in a business leader simply because it’s infectious. If you genuinely believe in what you’re doing, so will your suppliers and customers. And, importantly, so will your staff.

As David Lucatch, founder and CEO of Yappn Corp, says:

“The people I have seen achieve the greatest success in their professional and personal lives are passionate people that lead, support, and mentor others with that ‘zeal and zest’ for the work and people.”

So try to remain in touch with your why – the reason you started you business. And ensure you communicate that with passion to your suppliers and customers and, most importantly, your team. Make your passion their passion too.

5) Mentoring

A company is only as good as the people who work in it. So make sure you equip your team with the tools they need to be the best they can be.

And one way you can achieve this is to develop a programme of mentoring. Matching experienced employees (or external professionals) with members of your staff who are ready to grow can be a powerful way of building a ‘super team’.

It also creates a culture of sharing and support within your organisation, making it natural for those with knowledge, experience or strength to share it with those in need. Making you collectively stronger as an organisation.

6) Hiring

Small businesses are often lean enterprises run by a small team of dedicated employees. Which means you need to choose your employees carefully, ensuring that they’re not just brilliant at what they do, and highly motivated, but that they’ll fit your company culture well.

And for this, you need to make sure you hire the right people (starting right from the moment when you write the job description for your recruitment ad).

7) Personal improvement

In order to lead a healthy, successful business you need to be the best possible leader you can be. And few of us start out as the perfect leader. Indeed, often as entrepreneurs we are feeling our way, and upskilling and learning as we grow our business.

So never stop working on yourself. Listen for feedback (direct or indirect) from the people who work for you and around you. Look for opportunities to learn and improve. And find people who possess qualities you’d like to have.

What can you learn or model from these people? What opportunities do you have to learn? Researching online? Reading leadership books? Taking external courses?

It’s important, too, that your staff see you making an effort to improve yourself. If you are always curious and seeking new ways to learn and improve, they’ll be much more likely to follow suit.

You’ll encourage a culture of self-improvement, and attract employees who value learning – ensuring you’re growing a business that will always seek to be better, and as a result, more successful.

You ARE your business

If you run a small business, you need to remember that you ARE your business. And its success or otherwise will depend on your ability to lead that business wisely.

So ensure that you give your company the best possible chance of not just surviving, but thriving, by being the best possible leader you can.

Diana Clark is a social media specialist and content writing expert at Aussiewriter.