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Leadership and management skills for small business owners

When you are the head of your own business, reputation is everything. How you run your business, operate your workspace, how you communicate with your team and the rapport you have with your customers are all valuable skills you will need to learn in order to run a successful business.

We have put together our definitive guide of must-have leadership and management skills needed for small business owners, in an effort to help you on your way.

Leadership and management skills infographic


Communication will always be number one in any effective leadership or teamwork scenario. Without effective and open communication, things will quickly start to unravel. 

Getting to know your team members, how they themselves individually communicate, what their needs or challenges may be, and finding ways of working around these whilst also driving your own values as a team leader is going to stand both you and your team in the best stead for success. 

And communication is not only verbal. The way we use our body and eye contact can have a massive impact on how people perceive us and the results we derive from those we are working with. 

Folded arms and a lack of eye contact can give the impression that you are closed off or distracted, that you aren’t being present and taking the time to truly listen to your colleagues. 

It is important to keep an open energy and maintain relaxed body language, as well as good eye contact and signs of affirmation when speaking to a member of your team. 

As a leader, it is your job to set an example, and the rest of the team will reflect back what they receive from that leader, whether positive or negative.

How your run your team and workspace

Setting out clear ground rules, boundaries, expectations and ways of working when creating a working environment is a must for an efficient workspace. 

You must ensure that your team is clear on their responsibilities and tasks, and as a leader of a team you must also be willing to innovate and think critically in order to get the most out of your team and their work.

Organisation will be your best friend as a small business owner. For your own sanity it will pay to keep all your admin in order, making for easier and clearer planning and execution. Good organisation skills will always stand a small business in good stead, and will promote a reputation of efficiency.

There is also something to be said about how work is split up and delegated amongst members, ensuring that there is an equal workload that plays to the strengths of each individual. Balanced delegation of work will help to avoid overload, which can lead to some members of the team having to pick up slack for the others.

Remember, this is your business and what you say goes. You set the tone for the business and working expectations, so creating clear boundaries and expectations as a leader will ensure a clear and efficient working environment.

Be personable

There is much to be said about being an approachable leader. If you promote an open, honest and enjoyable workspace you are more likely to get the best out of those working for you, and therefore, the best out of your business.

Get to know your team and play to their strengths. Each team of people who come together will have their differences, but if the leader takes the time to learn about their team and the way they work, they will be better equipped to select the right tools and ways of working that will best serve the business. 

When different personalities and demands and deadlines are involved, things can get heated, and so supporting a value of open communication, honesty and accountability is a firm foundation upon which to build your working environment.

When people are treated fairly and feel valued in their work, they are more likely to WANT to work well, and as the leader of the pack you have the power to create this vibe.

Rapport – both within your team and with customers

Establishing rapport should sit at the very heart of every business. Whether with team members, collaborating businesses and suppliers or customers, rapport should be top priority for any small business owner. 

When building rapport, here are a few things to remember:

  • Being friendly and optimistic – The big number one! An optimistic, ‘we can solve it’ attitude will always be a winner when it comes to running a business. A large portion of the job includes problem solving and coming up with solutions to the eclectic array of issues that your work and customers will present you with. Being able to maintain a positive and upbeat outlook of situations and not being easily defeated when things get tricky will make you a resilient and resourceful member of any team. 
  • Attentiveness – Giving your full attention to people during interactions is vital. People want to feel like they are being truly listened to, and that their needs will be met when they express them. 
  • Authenticity and flexibility – People often see right through inauthenticity, and this will instantly lead to a lack of trust in both your abilities as a leader and possibly even in the business itself. We are always told ‘just be yourself’ – well this applies more than ever when operating a business and dealing with customer interactions. 
  • Empathy and shared experience – Finding similarities between you and a team member/customer helps bridge the gap in a business relationship. Often there can be a power dynamic between leaders and those who work for them. By finding common ground, it can level the playing field, making people feel like they are being spoken to as an equal. At the end of the day, we are all just looking for solutions to problems – hey, that is why businesses exist, to generate custom and help people with their requests. So why not start from that equal space and find the similarities between business owner, worker and customer, making for great trust and rapport in a working relationship.

    While we will never be able to fully understand someone else’s situation or experience unless we have truly lived it, we can always show empathy. Showing a worker or customer that you empathise with their situation is one of the greatest kindnesses a business owner can express.

    A business that does not care will never get very far. Caring should be at the heart of why a business does what it does, and outwardly showing this care towards its employees and customers is what will have the business soar to new heights. 
Building rapport with your team and customers infographic

Want to hone your leadership and management skills?

One of the best ways to start your small business journey off with a bang is to complete a short course in your chosen profession. Completing a course will solidify your skills, whether you are learning something new or enhancing skills you already have, starting from a refreshed state of learning will give you the best springboard to launch your career.

Our small biz/admin short courses will teach you how to organise and manage a team, as well as offering them guidance and support, planning and implementing elements of business and all aspects that come with that, as well as gaining skills in supervising and dealing with different personalities to make for the most positive and well-oiled workplace possible.

Here at My Learning Online we have an abundance of online short courses in the small business, admin and reception sectors which will equip you with the best skills and tools when it comes to communication and working as part of a team. 

Our courses aim to inspire and get you ready for a career in your chosen sector, or perhaps even start you on your pursuit of further education – who knows, you might finish one of our courses and be inspired to take up further study on vet assistant courses or photography pathways! 

The possibilities are endless once you have the tools and confidence to manage and communicate effectively with those you work with, and can perhaps even see a future for yourself in a leadership or managerial position. 

The clue is in the name – all of our courses are online, meaning you can have the flexibility to pursue your career whilst maintaining your lifestyle.

Why not speak to one of our course consultants for some guidance on the courses we have available, and which course might be a good fit for you? All our courses come with a downloadable brochure with further information about course content, accessing your learning online and tutor support. 

Enrol today in one of our small business and admin courses and get your small business dreams into gear. 


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