Making the transition: small business owner to small business leader
As a small business owner, you are an entrepreneur at your core – you organize a business venture and assume the risk. And it's a big risk. Fifty percent of businesses fail in the first year, and 90 percent fail by year five. So, if you've surpassed those milestones, congratulations. It's quite an accomplishment. To take your business to the next level, you need to tackle a less tangible asset – leadership. It's undeniable that leadership can make a world of difference in how you and your company will fare in the coming years. Read on to gain insight in to the key traits and activities that comprise leadership.
• Leaders cultivate new leaders. A true leader empowers employees, giving them the authority to think, make decisions and take action on behalf of the company. George S. Patton once said, "Don't tell people how to do things, tell them what to do and let them surprise you with their results." Moving from an owner to a leader requires that you learn to trust the employees you hire.
• Leaders plan. Leaders examine the market with boundless curiosity to forecast trends and integrate them into their strategies. With an understanding of market dynamics, leaders can more quickly adapt to new circumstances and opportunities. Leaders also integrate others into their planning-you may not always like what you hear, but dissenting opinions and vigorous debates lead to a healthier strategy.
• Leaders share the vision. A vision helps define your company for where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow. A leader shares her vision with employees so that they can understand how individual effort supports the grand plan. When you share your purpose with employees, they see themselves building a product or providing a service that makes an impact.
• Leaders lead themselves. As a leader, you create more value when you actively listen to employees, poll customers and understand the environment in which you're operating. Whether it's hiring an executive coach to increase your effectiveness or becoming a student by reading top leadership books, you'll learn that every individual has their own personal brand of leadership that harnesses their best qualities.
• Research proves that leaders aren't born. Leadership is a choice and comes from learning the behaviors and skills that inspire others to achieve. Rely on the fundamentals, be introspective and share your visions with others. Your business will be better for it.
Peter Marsh is vice president of business services for Comcast's greater Boston region.