Running a small business is not an easy thing. For starters, you are always wearing multiple hats and switching roles from a sales director, to a marketing guru, to an HR person to a visionary leader. That is because running a successful business and driving it towards growth requires more than a good idea. Great and effective leadership can make or break a small business. While some of us are born natural leaders who take to running a small business like fish takes to water, there are others who learn on the go. Whichever category you fall in, it’s necessary to understand real leadership skills since that is what is going to help you respond to changes, adapt to new requirements, pull the pack together and rise to new heights of success.
So here you go – in no particular order, here is a list of 5 skills that will see a small business owner through all challenges and will come in handy in growing their businesses.
Communicating well– Ensure that whatever you communicate is clear, precise and consistent. It is not enough to have a great vision unless you clearly communicate it. A true leader should be able to communicate the business’s vision to employees, investors and customers alike. Employees and investors should also be aware of goals and objectives of the business. A series of miscommunicated objectives can be detrimental to your business. It is also important to let your employees know about what is going on and what is expected from them. And to achieve this clear communication is paramount.
Being a good listener- Most of what we know and learn comes from listening. Being a good listener is one of the most important skills you can possess as a small business leader. Listening to your employees will let you stay in touch with what is happening at the operational level. And will also contribute to employee satisfaction. Listening to your customers will let you know the pulse of the market and how they feel about your business. Developing this skill will also encourage you to ask for opinions, feedback and ideas. Enabling you and your business with different perspectives and newer ideas. Needless to say keeping both internal and external customers is important for a small business.
Not fearing failure and bouncing back – This is probably the biggest armour you will need. There is no great business leader who has not experienced the lows of failure. The faster you can accept and get out of the trough of depression, anxiety, disappointment and frustration, the better. Be ready to handle failure – as and when it comes. Mistakes are bound to happen. But running a business without making mistakes is impossible. So why fear them? A good leader will not fear making mistakes; he/she will, in fact, turn them into a valuable lesson. How you bounce back from them matters most. Accept your defeat with humility, learn from them and move on. Take ownership of the mistakes and let employees own the successes.
Sales –As a small business owner, this is probably the single most important skill that you need to learn as a business owner. After all, its sales that drives a business. Essentially, sales skills are nothing but excellent communication skills. It’s about understanding your buyer, it’s about listening more than talking, it’s about skillful persuasion and getting others to agree to what you are saying, it’s about learning the art of negotiation and building self-confidence. Understanding the whole sales process and honing the skills needed to crack a deal should help you for as long you are in business.
Accountability – A small business has fewer people taking care of a varied set of functions. This may make setting expectations tougher and sometimes ambiguous. As a small business leader learning to set clear expectations and communicating what is expected out of each contributor is essential. This will help set accountability in place. And being accountable as a leader for the business will help you lead from the front. Leading from the front or by example is something you are always told is expected out of leaders. This is true for small business also, be accountable and an inspirational leader.
Your skills as business leader is important since finally its you who can make a huge difference in how your business is being built and where it goes from there. What you make of yourself as a leader and your business is all up to you.