Many entrepreneurs launch their startups from their bedrooms, and with success, they might have a small staff within a few years. Yet, being a business owner does not necessarily equip someone with the tools for being an effective business leader; founding a business and running a business are two different actions that require different knowledge and skill.
Even if you have been surprised by your newfound leadership position, you still have the opportunity to become an excellent leader for your small business. Here’s how.
Develop Company Values and Vision
You might know where you want your business to go and how you want it to grow, but your employees do not. You need to be able to communicate your dreams and goals to your team, and the best way to do that is to illuminate the values and vision you have for your company.
Values should form the foundation of your corporate culture. Values are important for both employees and customers, who use these core concepts to understand what guides the business’s behavior on both individual and organizational levels.
You can start defining your company’s values by determining the principles that have driven your work since you founded your business. You can also poll your staff to understand what values they hope to see in their employer.
Meanwhile, you should spend time ruminating on the vision you have for your company and devising ways to communicate that vision to your employees. Your vision should serve as inspiration to your workers, motivating them to perform to their highest ability to make your ideas into reality. Some questions you might ask yourself developing your company’s vision include:
- Are you solving a problem with this vision?
- What values can be associated with this vision?
- Will this vision change people’s lives, and if so, how?
- Has anyone ever accomplished a vision like this, and if not, why?
Practice Strong Communication
Transparency is a key to small business success, but sometimes, your attempts to be transparent can be stymied by your inability to communicate effectively.
It is a mistake to assume that because you are the business leader that everyone inherently understands what you mean when you communicate.
You should strive to make your communications as clear as possible, and that might require you to adapt the way you speak and write to the needs of your workforce. Some tips to make communication easier within your business include:
- Put instructions in writing
- Check your body language and tone
- Include visuals whenever possible
- Listen actively when others speak
Listen and Act on Feedback
As a business leader, you are tasked with providing feedback to your staff but your staff is likely to offer you feedback as well.
Though many business leaders might disregard feedback from the workforce, a better small business leader understands that such feedback can be the invaluable insight that when utilized properly can improve business operations in dozens of ways.
You should find a way to reliably collect feedback from your employees. If you are in the habit of conducting quarterly performance reviews, you can include a section in which you directly request feedback from your staff.
Otherwise, you might install an anonymous comment box near your office and peruse submissions weekly or monthly to find valuable information.
Acting on the feedback you receive is the most critical step in this process. Feedback does nothing if you do not use it to improve your business.
Thus, even if you receive feedback that produces in you a negative emotional response, you should consider the validity of the comments and determine whether there are meaningful changes you can make to address the feedback.
Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses
Undoubtedly, you have performed a SWOT analysis of your business time and again to help guide your decision-making.
Yet, you have likely neglected to perform a similar analysis on yourself as a business leader. By identifying your strengths and weaknesses, you can put more energy into the leadership tasks you excel at while investing time into improving the skills you find most challenging.
You might enroll in online short courses to strengthen your weaknesses and help guide your business closer to your vision.
You do not need to choose between being an effective entrepreneur and a thriving business leader — you can be both. Transitioning from business owner to manager can be difficult, but if you know how to direct your efforts, you can lead your small business team to success.