What makes a great small business leader?

In a recent blog post, we presented a list of questions to ask yourself if you’re thinking of starting a small business. One of those questions was related to leadership in small business. What answer did you give to that question? What qualities does a strong leader of a small business possess? As providers of comprehensive small business training, we know that good leadership is just as important to an entrepreneur’s success as a good accountant or an exit strategy.

A small business leader has – and shares – a strong vision

The sign of a strong small business leader is a strong vision, both when you start a business and during its lifecycle. As a small business owner, you are the one responsible for setting the direction in which you want to grow. The life of an entrepreneur is hectic, but a clear vision gives your small business some stability. If your business has employees, it’s critical that you share your vision with them – it allows them to take pride in where they work and demonstrates that you’re a leader who knows their stuff.

Effective small business leadership is done so by example

So you have a strong vision and a great business model – but effective leadership doesn’t end there. Great small business leaders really walk the talk, demonstrating to others just how they embody their business’ values, mission and principles. As the leader in your small business, inspire others through your actions, not just your words.

Great small business leaders recognize the potential of their team

How motivated and inspired do you think your employees would be if they weren’t allowed to ask questions or present concerns? What opinion would they hold of you as a leader? Great small business leaders understand that good ideas can come from many sources. Encourage your employees to approach you with concerns or ideas, and really listen to them. Delegate tasks to your team members – this one’s hard for some entrepreneurs, but it’s vital. If you have executives or managers, invest in business training courses to help them build their skills. These actions will prove that you’re a small business leader who recognizes the value of your team.

A strong small business leader is ethical and stable

Being an entrepreneur means wearing many hats, which then means bearing a fair amount of stress. However, as a good small business leader, you must be able to deal with any issue without letting the stress get the better of you. Great small business leaders also possess strong ethical standards and expect their employees to meet these standards as well. Strong ethical standards and emotional stability prove to others that you are a leader who is fully in control of your business.

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Why a business model is so important

So you’ve had your A-ha! Moment. You’ve come up with a great small business idea and are ready to start a small business.

But, are you?

Before you start your small business, you need to create a business model – your roadmap for small business success.  And no, a business model is not a business plan.  You can’t even begin to write a business plan until you’ve created a “blueprint” for your success with a business model. Confused? Let’s take a closer look at a business model.

A business model is a blueprint for small business success

Building a business is a lot like building a house – and who can imagine a house built without preliminary sketches? Creating a small business model means planning – on paper – the fundamentals of your business. It helps you, as an entrepreneur, to put aside the excitement and make a realistic evaluation of the potential success of your business idea. A proper business model helps you to figure out elements such as: Your business concept – what problem are you solving for whom; how you will create customer value; how your product or service will get to customers; how your business will stay competitive; and all revenue and costs you can anticipate.

Take your time creating a business model

You may have a few ideas scribbled down on a sheet of paper – name ideas, product prices and ideal locations. This is a great start, but a proper business model takes time. Starting a small business is exciting, but you also need the strongest foundation possible to ensure small business success. Don’t guess what your business’ customer value will be – research! Survey your friends and work your business network to find the true value of the solution that your product or service offers to the marketplace. Taking your time creating your business model will ensure you don’t underestimate – or overestimate – anything.

Consider all possible areas of concern

There are many moving parts when it comes to running a business and you don’t want to be caught unprepared. For example, how exactly will your product make its way to your customers? Make sure your business model is thorough and covers all the bases. Once you’ve proven the feasibility of your new business or your business expansion plan on paper with a business model, you’re ready to write a more comprehensive business plan. Proper planning takes time and effort, but you’ll see the return on that investment when your great idea has become the great, successful small business you envisioned.

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Throne speech highlights support for Canadian small business

Wednesday’s Throne Speech, delivered by Governor-General Michaelle Jean, outlined objectives for the Conservative government to achieve this year. Among these objectives was increased support for Canadian small business. According to an article in the Calgary Herald,

The government plans to boost employment with a focus on new education programs, skills training and new infrastructure that will support a public policy goal of increasing productivity and employment.

With this focus on education and training, it looks like 2010 could be the ideal time to start a small business!

Another commitment made was to “strengthen laws on copyright and intellectual property.” Many small businesses are started with a great idea, invention or product. So, all you inventors out there, why not see if your great idea can become a great business?

You can read the full article about the Throne Speech at the Calgary Herald.

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