Many small business owners do not consider themselves leaders, but anyone can become a leader. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work.” To become a leader in your business or industry you’ll need a plan, you’ll need a vision, you’ll need to empower others, and you’ll need to lead yourself.
Are you a small business looking to take your business to the next level?
You’ve likely already identified some of the keys to strategic growth including access to capital, loyal customers, and the opportunity for capturing additional market share. While these are tangible items that can be put to paper and measured against target objectives, there is another less tangible asset that can make the difference between a stable business and a thriving one: leadership.
Many small business owners do not consider themselves leaders, but anyone can become a leader — in the famous words of Vince Lombardi, “Leaders are not born. Leaders are made, and they are made by effort and hard work.” To become a leader in your business or industry you’ll need a plan, you’ll need a vision, you’ll need to empower others, and you’ll need to lead yourself.
Develop a plan
Successful entrepreneurs examine the market with boundless curiosity to forecast trends and integrate them into their business strategies. With an understanding of market dynamics, these leaders can quickly adapt to new circumstances and opportunities. This also helps with the identification of problems before they strike, or should a problem occur — as they often do — appropriate action can be taken.
This is not meant to be a solo effort, however. Your employees have great insight and you should leverage it. They interact with your customers, they watch your competitors, and they have opinions. Integrate their feedback and ideas into your planning process.
Create a vision and share it
Some of the most overused and misunderstood words in the business planning world are mission, vision and values. However, they are interrelated and each is equally important in providing momentum and inspiration to a business and its employees.
- Mission is what you want to achieve in operating your business. Create a mission statement to describe the overall purpose of your organization. Say what you do, who you do it for and how and why you do it. This will set boundaries on your organization’s current activities.
- Values are clear in everything you do and how you operate. Create a value statement that reflects the core ideology of your company and provides employees with the guiding light they need to choose among competing priorities, and to establish how they will work together.
- Vision allows your employees and your customers to know what you aspire to be. Create a vision statement that describes an ideal future. It should answer the question, “What impact do we want to make?”
Empower your employees
As a leader, you have the responsibility to create a work environment that fosters the ability and desire of employees to act in empowered ways. This includes removing the barriers that limit the ability for staff to act in ways that help them feel powerful. If you plan to grow from a business owner into a business leader, you must learn to trust the employees you hire. It’s infinitely easier to do this if you have planned and properly shared your vision with your employees. Knowing that you’ve established a solid foundation will provide direction for your business and allow others to uphold your standards.
A prudent leader knows how to lead and motivate him or herself. The first step in this journey is to recognize that leadership takes commitment, consistency and hard work. And, just as a leader must focus and motivate others, you must commit to motivating yourself to continue on this journey.