ASK SCORE: Leadership is a must in small businessesPublished 4:33pm Thursday, August 29, 2013
One of the primary reasons expressed by individuals for wanting to launch their own business enterprise is the opportunity to “be my own boss.” The opportunity to be the key decision maker and control your own destiny appears to be both exciting and enticing. At the same time, it also comes with the added responsibility of being the leader in the organization. You are now in charge of setting the direction for your business, motivating and inspiring your employees to embrace your vision for the future success of the business. You must be prepared to handle all the good, the bad and the potentially unpleasant decisions that must be made in the daily operations of your business. As you are the “boss,” you must be prepared to successfully execute this “leadership” with a calm and confidence that is reassuring to your employees, customers and suppliers.
Developing your leadership skill is a continuing process that evolves with both time and the needs of your business. Here are five questions that you might ask to begin a self-evaluation of your strengths as a business leader.
1) Do you monitor economic and social trends that affect your employees, customers and suppliers?
2) Do you encourage your employees to suggest new ideas and to assume more responsibility?
3) When problems develop, do you work with your employees to understand how and why something happened, rather than looking for someone to blame?
4) Are your business policies flexible and considerate of various employee and customer needs?
5) Do you communicate regularly with your employees and customers and encourage their feedback?
If you are able to answer “yes” to most of these questions, you are probably well on your way to establishing a successful business and yourself as a successful leader. Continuing to keep the lines of communication open with your employee and networking within your industry or local business organization to stay current on ever-changing trends helps in maintaining high morale and in retaining your employees. Employee turnover has a very direct impact on your bottom line.
If you cannot answer “yes,” you might want to spend some time focusing on how a change in your leadership style and skill might have a positive impact on both the performance of your employees and the success of your business. You might consider leadership courses offered by local colleges and universities, on-line self-help programs, books or engaging the services of a consultant. Recognizing that you have an opportunity for improvement is the first step. Leadership is an acquired skill.
SCORE is a national, nonprofit organization that offers confidential and free counseling to small businesses. In the greater Washington area, contact SCORE by leaving a phone message at 252-974-1848, by visiting the website at www.EastCarolina.Score.org or visiting the office on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the JobLink building, 1385 John Small Ave., Washington.
Mark Schiller is an East Carolina SCORE counselor. This is his first SCORE column for the Washington Daily News.