Chances are good small business leadership is NOT part of our natural skill set. And like me, you may be fighting a daily battle against imposter syndrome. Unfortunately, leadership is indispensable in a small business, just as much as it is in a larger corporate. So how can you excel as a business leader, even when your business is small?
TODAY, WE’RE HAVING A PEP-TALK.
We all need one at times. Because if running your own business would be easy, the entire world would do it.
But that hard thing we do also gives you the chance to be as free as a bird. The only person who decides what happens in your business is YOU!
YOU ARE CALLING ALL THE SHOTS!
This is YOUR chance to be the hero of your business.
But to some of us, that’s challenging too, intimidating. See, most of us started off as solopreneurs. The do-ers in our business. I’d say you’re probably very good at do-ing what you’re doing.
BUT as your business grows, your role changes. You become less of a do-er and you step into the role of a small business leader.
Or at least, that’s what we should be doing…
Leading A Small Business When You’re Battling Imposter Syndrome
This was exactly my response.
Not only is small business leadership NOT necessarily part of our natural skill set. Me, like many other women leading a small business, was fighting a daily battle with imposter syndrome.
In my head, business leaders are CEOs of large corporates: Warren Buffett, Sara Blakely, Indra Nooyi (former CEO Pepsi), In Aotearoa-New Zealand Stephen Tindall.
All these people, … but NOT LITTLE OLD ME….
I didn’t really think I knew all that much about leadership, even though I had some solid experience in business.
But then I realised I was allowing labels and box-thinking to limit myself.
I WAS a leader.
I AM a leader.
SO ARE YOU!
Then…Who Is A Business Leader???
Speaking with Jen Meyers from Gener8 Leadership Solutions, she confirms this thought.
In line with her John Maxwell background, she says:
‘leadership is the ability to influence others’.
Or in the master’s words:
’A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way’.
And I sure do that on a daily basis!
See… I lead my team. But I also lead my clients, my suppliers. Heck, I lead myself!
EVERY. SINGLE. DAY!
SO…it goes without saying, if we want our business to do well, we need to step into our role as small business leader.
How To Be A Good Leader In Business
I’m not the only owner who used to struggle to step into the role of small business leader. Most of us fight these demons on some level. And that’s where we need to have a pep-talk. Because our business will never outgrow us as the leader of our business.
You may want to read that again:
OUR BUSINESS WILL NEVER OUTGROW US AS THE LEADER OF OUR BUSINESS.
So, it’s got to be said. It’s time to be brave, face the challenge head-on and become the small business leader our business needs us to be.
Sure, it starts with a change of mind-set. With awareness. But luckily, Jen also has some very useful leadership tips for small business owners like you and me.
4 Small Business Leadership Tips To Help You Become The Leader You Are Meant To Be
Tip 1: Take 30 Minutes Every Week To Think About Your Business
Set aside some time, every single week, to go somewhere quiet where you won’t be disturbed. Think about your business. What is going well right now? What did you bring to the table to make this go well? But also, what didn’t go so well during the past 7 days? What could I have done to change that? What do I want my days to look like? How can I contribute to something positive in my business?
The idea is to pause from the Go-Go-Go, and get into the heart and brain of your business. Try to understand it better.
GET IT INTO FOCUS.
Tip 2: Take Some Time Every 6-12 Weeks To Have A Chat With Each Of Your Employees
Have a quarterly-ish check-in with your people to create a strong team and a strong business.
It’s a small investment that pays off on so many levels.
- It signals to your staff that you care.
- You get to know each other better.
- Your team will trust you.
- They will feel confident to approach you when they feel the need to.
- You will be aware if somebody on the team has something major going on in their life.
- When you go in intending to help them do their job better, you also fine-tune your leadership skills.
HOWEVER…Some pitfalls to be wary of:
- Find the cadence that feels right to you. Too often and you’ll be staring at each other without having a lot to say. Too little and you’re missing the point.
- It will take some getting used to. Stick with it. Jen says it’s like going to the gym. It’s hard at first, but it gets easier as you persevere.
- It’s important to communicate clearly what your intentions are. I’ve seen staff who thought they were being pulled aside to get a pay rise. Oops!
- It exposes team members who just want to do the job and go home. While this may mean you risk losing this team member in the long run, it may be a blessing in disguise, as it shows you’re not on the same page.
Jen says team chats are one of the most powerful things you can do to help you step into the role of becoming a small business leader.
Tip 3: Commit To Growing
There’s a lot of negativity in the world right now.
Not enough money. Not enough clients. A pandemic didn’t help. A recession doesn’t either. Crazy political leaders only make it worse.
Jen says, upsetting as it is, there’s nothing much you can do about it. That stuff’s going to happen.
BUT you CAN look after yourself, invest in yourself as a small business leader.
WHEN WE INVEST IN OURSELVES, WE INVEST IN OUR BUSINESS
See, as small business leaders, we have been instilled with the idea that
- we’re not worthy of investing in self-development
- that we will need a formal education
- that it will cost a lot of money.
(Tall-Poppy syndrome for my Kiwi friends!?)
But Jen says it’s not about giant retreats or going (back) to uni to get an MBA.
Her tip is to do ‘a Warren Buffett’: Put in a little and often, a little and often, a little and often.
Before you know it, you’re ‘a billionaire of knowledge’.
BEST OF ALL, NOBODY CAN TAKE THAT FROM YOU!
Tip 4: Be Consistent In Prospecting
Something Jen says many small business owners struggle with is consistency in prospecting.
But unless you have a business that is fed 100% by word of mouth (and even then she says she would advise against putting all your eggs all in one basket), you need to do some prospecting.
So, always continue to work on building new relationships with people.
EVERY WEEK OF THE YEAR.
That is a lot of telling people about what you do. And you better make it POP!
Jen tells about a photographer she met who said ‘they were shooting people for a living’.
Now we’re talking about a quirky and witty person here, who fitted this kind of line. But my point is, it made them stand out.
So the thing to take: be relentless in your prospecting work.
- Be consistent.
- Get your message clear.
Think about how you get people interested in what you do? What is the benefit for them? Then continue to improve on your message.
Small business leadership is all about practice, and you will not get it right every time. But that’s ok.
Small Business Leadership: What It All Boils Down To
SEE… being a small business leader isn't about comparing yourself against the Tim Cook’s of the world. It's comparing yourself with YOU the day before.
Keep thinking about how you can improve? Consider how you can be 1% better tomorrow than you are today? THAT'S where that leadership muscle starts to grow.
And just like that, we’ve come full circle.
Now go and lead your business!
Connect With Jennifer Meyers
Jen is a passionate partner at Gener8 Leadership Solutions. She is a Certified Maxwell Leadership Team Coach & Trainer (Based on the principle of John Maxwell, who you may know from his many books on leadership). Jen works with corporates, C-level executives and small businesses leaders on their communication and leadership skills.
If what Jen said on the blog or podcast resonates with you, you can get in touch with her here: