As a small business owner, you wear many hats. From accountant to customer service rep, you’ve likely got a part in every aspect of the business. One of the roles that deserves a little extra attention are your leadership skills. These characteristics apply to any business, no matter if you’ve got a team of twenty or two thousand.
Great leaders demonstrate initiative. Leadership author and speaker Michael Hyatt says that one key characteristic of a great leader is that they take action. You didn’t start your business by sitting on your sofa thinking how great your idea could be; you got up and actually made it happen. Now, you’ve just got to keep the momentum going. When you see something that needs doing, and can be done quickly and easily by yourself, do it. Of course, there are things you should delegate—for instance, hire freelance writers if writing isn’t in your skill set—but set an example so your employees will develop initiative as well.
Great leaders take responsibility. No matter what happens, good or bad, it’s your hand that signs the paychecks at the end of the day. It’s easy to take credit for the good, but a bit more difficult when it comes to finding out that an employee has treated a customer poorly or one of your products is faulty. Just do the right thing since you’re the one who hired the employee and you’re the one who put the product out for sale. This isn’t to say you have to be a scapegoat, but be careful to not make others your own.
Great leaders make the best of their resources. It’s hard to get noticed and make money when you have a marketing budget that’s equal in size to your family’s annual vacation budget. Maybe you don’t have enough to hire an employee or you have too many ideas and not enough time. Whenever you face a problem, look at it as a challenge to see how you can work around it. Maybe you can invest a few hours in reading up on free and low-cost marketing strategies, hire your teen to help you or start a list of ideas to use in the future rather than give up on them.
Great leaders posses integrity. In opening your business, you’ve likely established a set of core values and it’s up to you fulfill them. It doesn’t matter so much as to which set of ethics you subscribe or whether or not your customers agree with them; what matters is that you stick to them through thick and thin. As a leader in your company, you set the bar for the rest of your team. Even if your customers don’t have the same values as you, you’ll gain respect for standing up for what you believe in.
Great leaders are confident. Many small business owners have employed the “fake it ’til you make it” technique in order to keep their confidence levels in the black. While it’s important to realize that your business will go up many hills and down just as many valleys, staying positive is key—not only for yourself, but for your employees and customers. Your team will look to you to see how you react when faced with challenges, and your customers will feel more comfortable buying from you if you exude confidence.
Even if you’re not leading a team of employees yet, these characteristics are worth honing now. Better yet, they’re transferable, so if you’re involved in a professional, religious or community organization, you can use them in your leadership roles there as well.
Charlotte E is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.