In running any organization, small business owners must decide how they wish to operate: as a leader or as a boss. A leader develops a strategy and provides direction for the business to thrive and grow. A boss implements the strategy, come what may. To run a small business effectively, one should decide to be a leader.

Being a leader is a mindset shift in how you operate your business. It is also shifting away from a “doer,” being in the minutia of your business as opposed to strategically working on your business. Leadership requires knowledge of the market, the consumer, and external factors which affect the business. Thus, the leader looks outside first: what is going on that will affect the sale of the product or service and how can those factors change the way a product or service will be promoted, marketed, and serviced. A boss may blindly crank out the product or service, no matter what.

A leader must have three crucial qualities, self-awareness, cultural development, and critical decision-making, to take a business to the next level.

Self-awareness: how do you “show up” for your business? Do you treat it like a hobby, something that you pay attention to every so often? Or is your business a commitment that you have chosen to invest in, nurture, and grow? Your intentions for your business will drive your actions and your results. Recognize how you interact with your customers, work with your team, and collaborate with your partners. Ask questions: what ‘s working, not working, and could work? As a leader, this can be eye-opening to help you identify gaps and pivot when appropriate.

 The second thing to consider as you grow your business is your company culture. As your business grows, hiring people with the right skills and behaviors are critical. You need to decide what type of culture you want for your company. If you micro-manage, employees and partners will feel constricted, fear making mistakes, and be unwilling to tell you their opinions. Your resistance to relinquishing control, your lack of trust in your team, and your fear of failing, will not serve your company in the long run. A better way to lead and manage your company is to just let go. That means hire excellent people and let them execute the strategies you laid out for them. Create a culture that coaches, develops, and trusts: you, your vision, and each other. This style builds trust, creates good-will, and generates enthusiasm to get the job done.

As you create this inclusive culture, encourage and consider others’ perspectives. These are keys to leading an effective company. Then, as a leader, find mentors and advisors. Surround yourself with people who are smarter than you and willing to tell you their opinions. Leverage their strengths and weigh your options.

As you move your business forward, change your mindset from boss to leader. This will help you in gaining clarity with creating your vision, executing your strategy, and developing an effective team to support your business growth.


Published on Huffington Post