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Five Simple Tips for Effective Small Business Leadership

Want to know the best ways to keep your workforce enthused and effective? Check out these simple steps.

Leading a small business is quite different from working on your own. The budgets get bigger, the problems get tougher and the number of people who depend on you suddenly begins to multiply. You can't just rely on your wits and wherewithal anymore; you must rely on other individuals too.

How can you lead your business with passion and consistency? Read on for five simple steps.

1) Hire Good People

Start with hiring. Small business owners tend to make a lot of mistakes in personnel when they're starting out, but wisdom and experience can sharpen these skills. Look for people who can problem-solve, who can communicate lucidly and who "get" your company's culture. Then give these people your time and resources to show you value what they bring.

2) Be Clear

It can be a rocky transition, moving from self-reliance to collaboration. One of the chief sources of confusion is clarity: Many first-time business owners are unaccustomed to having to explain what's in their head. Don't assume that because your staff is bright, they can read your mind. Work on communicating clear signposts, deadlines and goals for the projects you undertake. And check in frequently to confirm you're being heard.

3) Nurture the Gifted

There's nothing quite as exciting as nabbing a uniquely talented employee. But it can be all too easy to take that talent for granted over time. Don't forget to reward performance with greater responsibilities and compensation. Make a habit of reviewing your workforce to surface the exceptional performers. And put some thought into how your stars can add further value to the company—and how you can add value for them.

4) Think Ahead

Leaders don't just look inward at their workforce; they must also look outward at the landscape ahead. Set aside some time each week for a "periscope view" of the greater forces that may be disrupting your industry. Is a digital wave coming that could wipe out what you make? Might future computing frontiers help you reach a wider audience? Vision: It's a job.

5) Listen

The military uses the phrase "force multiplier" to refer to any tactic or technology that makes the power of its soldiers greater than their numbers. Listening to employees is a force multiplier for your business. Your employees can expand your mind with richer ideas, making you far more effective than you would be on your own. Seek out this feedback and don't be afraid to hear candid assessments.

Summing It All Up

Anyone can be a great business leader with some care, energy and curiosity. If you can keep your people enthused and empowered, and keep your company looking forward, you can survive just about anything the market throws at you.

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