You started with a great idea, and a vision for where you could take it. You’ve turned your great idea into a burgeoning small business that is by all accounts doing pretty well.
A key issue that often faces small business owners after that point, is leadership. Often a new business owner is excellent in their chosen field, but not necessarily strong in management and leadership skills. As the business grows these skills become more important if the business is to thrive. It’s not just about having a great product or service it’s about having the ability to lead and manage staff as your business grows.
Here are some tips to improve your leadership management skills:
Communication is key
This works both ways. Share with your staff your vision for the company. Communicate to them how their role fits into the overall picture and how they can therefore actively contribute to the success of the company. Likewise set up channels where they can feedback to you. Whether this is an open-door policy to come and discuss things personally, or an avenue where they can contribute suggestions for improvement. Listening and understanding employees needs and observations and then acting on them, if appropriate, will make them feel valued and enhance the culture of your business.
Lead by example
Behave in a way that you would like your staff to behave. Turn up promptly for work. Put in the hours until your job is done. Go the extra mile. Respect your customers, listen their issues and work through them to ensure they are satisfied. Your employees will pick up on your work ethic and are more likely to follow suit. You can’t be everywhere, doing everything, but if you get your staff on board with your work ethic, by default you will be more likely to have a team of people acting as you would act, and delivering the service level you yourself would deliver.
Starting a new business or growing and existing one is hard work. It’s important to exude a sense of positivity, optimism and confidence of where you are going and what you intend to achieve. This will encourage your staff to also get on board with your vision, and to believe in the quality and delivery of your products or services. There will be set-backs and challenges, but again it’s important to approach these with a can-do attitude, with a view to working through the issues and moving forward towards your goal.
Your staff is an important asset to your business. As with any asset it’s important to invest in them. Make sure your staff is well qualified for the roles they undertake, and if additional training or qualifications are required, as your business or their roles grow and change, make sure you invest in that staff education process. Your staff will feel valued and will more likely remain on board with your business goals and vision. It takes more time and money to re-recruit new staff than it does to develop and grow those you already have.
Another key point with staff is to share in your success. If a staff member is doing well or going above and beyond in their role, acknowledge them for it. Show you notice, and reward their hard work and loyalty. This may be as simple as a verbal acknowledgement or even a financial or holiday leave acknowledgement if business success allows.
Likewise with the community as a whole – be involved in your local community and get them on board with your brand. Whether this is sponsoring a local event or even running a community sausage sizzle, it gets your brand out there in the community in a favourable light and potential customers will likely remember you for it.
Invest in technology
It’s important to stay up to date with technology that is relevant to your business. This doesn’t necessarily mean a huge investment in technology. It’s more about being savvy across the various social media opportunities and understanding relevant computer technology. If it’s not an area that you are confident in, then invest in a consultant or part-time employee to get you up to speed with the most effective technology to offer the cost, promotional and production efficiencies within your business.
Strong leadership, and staff who are onboard with your vision will lead to a positive company culture and ultimately improved business growth and performance. It’s worth the time and investment.
NB: This article was published in the EMA “BusinessPlus” magazine. Enterprises of all types and sizes join the Employers and Manufacturers Association, for opportunities to learn and grow, make valuable business connections and change the world. EMA provides its members with professional advice and training to succeed in many aspects of business.