The typical leadership style of successful small business owners may be different than what some people envision. While small business owners have varying approaches to running their company, there are several best practices to motivate employees and expand business operations. What makes the difference between the 50 percent of small businesses that succeed and the 50 percent that fail within the first five years?
The following are some leadership characteristics of successful small business owners.
- Stay calm. While entrepreneurs may have more of an appetite for risk and adventure than the general population, small business owners need to remain calm and collected while navigating a high-pressure environment. In fact, small business owners score 45 percent higher than CEOs at large companies when it comes to “performance under pressure,” according to a recent study from Inc. magazine.
- Remember that you are not your company. While many high-profile Fortune 500 CEOs have become the “face” of their companies, this often does not work as well in the small business world. Arguably, Steve Jobs is the face of Apple, but he has an organizational infrastructure that enables him to focus on promoting Apple’s vision. While the idea of high-profile leadership may be tempting for a small business owner, the reality is your company must extend beyond a brand based primarily on your image.
- Use support, not intimidation to motivate. While entrepreneurs may encourage employees to work now for a payoff later, small business owners represented by the Inc. 500 score 82 percent higher than the general population in their capacity to offer support and encouragement. They do not micromanage. Instead, they succeed by helping employees and partners reach success and feel ownership of the company.
- Keep the finish line in view. Similar to an Olympic athlete, a successful small business owner needs to have a clear vision of success. Remaining dedicated to achieving your company’s goals over time will ensure long-term success.
- Find a way to be happy every day. If the dream you had for your company made you happy, you should find a way to sustain that happiness as your company develops and grows. There are ways to lead your company that will nurture you in deeper ways – be honest and authentic about why you started the company. Hire employees who enjoy autonomy, are not afraid to speak up, and share your vision for the company. Tap into the meaning behind your business and the contribution you are making to your employees, customers and community. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”
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