Guest Contributor: Angie Picardo

Angie Picardo is a staff writer for NerdWallet (@NerdWallet). Her mission is to help businesses stay financially savvy, and save some money with the 
best business checking account.

5 Leadership Tips for Entrepreneurs & Small Business Owners

By Guest Contributor, Angie Picardo  June 10, 2013

5 Leadership Tips for Entrepreneurs and Small Business OwnersIf you want to be a successful entrepreneur, then you’ve got to have good leadership skills. Not everyone is a natural leader, of course, so you have to work hard at developing your skills. There’s no formula for becoming a good leader, but here are a few useful tips for helping you get there.

  1. Define clear goals

    A strong leader always has a goal in mind and a plan for achieving it. If you don’t know what you want, how can you inspire and lead your employees or team? And how can you expect them to work with purpose? Suppose, for instance, that the owner of a small business hopes to reach a milestone in profits that year. Before communicating that goal to employees, she must have a clear sense of how to reach it.

  2. Communicate effectively

    Succeeding as an entrepreneur or small business owner depends as much on your great ideas as on your ability to communicate them. Your communication with your employees or team should be specific and clear. After all, you want to ensure that they understand you, your vision and your goals for the company. Misunderstandings stem from ambiguity and inconsistency, and conflict hampers your ability to lead effectively.

    Of course, running a business means learning as you go; you don’t have all the answers, and you learn by trial-and-error. Part of being a good leader, then, is being a good listener. Encourage your employees to share their ideas, and pay attention when they do. Maybe someone has a great idea for increasing revenue. You’ll never know if you don’t give people the opportunity to speak up.

  3. Cultivate a supportive atmosphere

    An effective leader supports and guides others, so make sure that your employees have the resources they need – time, money, and information – to produce the best result they can. When mistakes occur, don’t blame an individual. Instead, try to analyze the situation and discover how to avoid those errors in the future. Be understanding, encouraging and supportive. If you implement an employee’s idea to increase revenue and it fails, learn from it and move on. Don’t harp on the failure or the person who offered the idea. Focusing on the positives will inspire your team to work harder.

  4. Have confidence

    No business can be successful unless the founder believes in herself. And that means believing when times are good as well as bad. Confidence doesn’t mean being perfect. It means learning from your mistakes and faults, and empowering yourself to succeed. When you make a mistake, acknowledge it and take responsibility, just as you expect your employees to do. Lead by example. If you don’t believe that your business will reach a milestone, then your employees probably won’t either it, and it probably won’t happen. Confidence from the leader inspires the entire team to work hard and perform at the highest possible level.

  5. Be honest

    Honest leaders win the trust and confidence of their followers, and employees who have faith in their leaders are more likely to work harder. So give credit where it’s due and don’t hesitate to acknowledge those employees who contributed to a positive outcome.


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