“Everything rises and falls on leadership.” – John C. Maxwell
I’ve noticed a mindset problem with a lot of small business or home-business entrepreneurs that I’d like to address. It has to do with how their perspective on the importance of leadership in relation to their business. Like the above quote states, EVERYTHING rises and falls on leadership.
This means that your personal life, your family life, your relationships, your church, your community, your marriage, your children, and yes… your small business will either rise or fall depending on your leadership skill. When I fully realized this simple fact, I made it my business (pun intended) to improve my leadership ability. My hope is that you will too after you’re done reading this important post.
Like me, you’ve probably heard that most (80%) small businesses fail in their first year. According to the Small Business Association (SBA), this isn’t necessarily true. The SBA states that only 30% of new businesses fail during the first two years of being open, 50% during the first five years and 66% during the first 10. The SBA goes on to state that only 25% make it to 15 years or more.
That said, whether it’s 30, 50, or 80% of small businesses that fail in their first year; it’s still extremely challenging for small business owners to stand out in a BIG way and make a BIG splash on their first dive.
My contention is that the one thing that is missing in most of these business failures is the leadership of the individual entrepreneur. I strongly believe the main cause of most of these failures is not the a bad product, inadequate marketing, or lack of funds – although these do come into play. No. The main reason for business failures is mainly leadership. Tony Robbins summed it up this way:
“It’s not the lack of resources, it’s your lack of resourcefulness that stops you.” – Tony Robbins
And resourcefulness is simply a by-product of strong leadership.
Most small business entrepreneurs I know fail to see the importance of developing themselves into resourceful leaders in order to be better at running their biz. Here are the most common reasons I’ve heard why small business owners or entrepreneurs usually don’t think that working at improving their leadership is important:
- All I need is business acumen to grow my business
- I’m not running an international corporation and only have a few employees
- I already have all the leadership skills I’ll ever need
- I don’t have time for personal development books, teachings, or seminars
By the way, these excuses will inevitably either make you fail at business, or prevent your business to grow altogether.
So, why is strong leadership essential for small businesses?
I will now list the reasons why small businesses need BIG leadership…
1- Improving your leadership develops your character. Character and integrity are essential business tools that will also trickle down in more than just your business. Developing your leadership and your character are two things that go hand in hand and that will benefit your life as a whole. The Scripture says that a good name is worth more than gold (Proverbs 22:1). This is indeed true and developing strong leadership will inevitably affect your character, and ultimately, your good name – everywhere.
2- Improving your leadership makes you more fearless. Fear doesn’t only lead to the dark side, it also leads absolutely nowhere. The number one enemy in everybody’s life is fear. Fear paralyzes, makes you fruitless, and makes you miserable. One main difference between successful and unsuccessful entrepreneurs is how they deal with fear. The successful ones do it anyway. They do it afraid. They experience fear like everyone else, but move on anyway. They are courageous. And courage, as I wrote in my other blog post titled: No Guts, No Glory is essential to good leadership. And good leadership breeds courage.
3- Improving your leadership improves your communication skills. More than ever, we live in an era of communications. Skype, Social Media, Telephone, Networking face to face, leading a team; all of these require strong communication skills. I have seen many shy and reserved entrepreneurs grow their communication ability as they perfected their leadership skill. The reason is simple: when you become a better leader, you become more confident. And when you become more confident, you are bolder in expressing yourself, and thus usually become a better communicator.
4- Improving your leadership helps you to be a better team player. The mere word ‘leadership’ entails teamwork. Leadership is a social skill which is all about a team environment. Those who work out their leadership ability inevitably become better team players because good leadership training teaches how to value others and to sacrifice yourself for the benefit of the cause or the team. On any given team (in sports or business), those who serve others, sacrifice themselves, and value their teammates are usually seen as leaders on that team. This works whether you have a team of two employees… or two thousand.
5- Improving your leadership makes you value others more. When you read books or attend seminars on leadership, you constantly hear about self-sacrifice, honor, courage, morals, caring, etc. These values and principles are slowly etched in your mind and soul and they eventually become a part of you. Whether you are already predisposed to be a ‘people person’ or a hardcore recluse, when you saturate yourself with leadership growth materials, you will slowly begin to care more about others and value them more.
6- Improving your leadership increases your influence. Leadership is often summed up in one word: influence. Better leaders are usually better influencers. When you are an entrepreneur, you quickly learn how valuable influence is. Those who have it flourish, and those who don’t, well, stagnate or die out. While I don’t believe that influence always equates good leadership, I do believe that those who grow their leadership will definitely benefit their influential factor. In business, this is a HUGE advantage!
7- Improving your leadership improves your self-image. This last one may seem a bit superficial, but trust me, it’s not. How you perceive yourself can determine so much as you position yourself as an entrepreneur in the marketplace. I have seen it time and again: those who believe in themselves can make a killing with an average product, while those who don’t, even if they have a killer product, will only stumble, fumble, and fail. That said, You should always aim to combine the best of both worlds: confidently make a killing with the best possible product or service.
Your business will only go as far as your leadership will allow.
That is the first law of leadership which John C. Maxwell calls ‘The Law of The Lid’ in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership. If your biz has been struggling, fumbling, or failing, look at yourself in the mirror and ask yourself these important questions:
“Have I understood the importance of leadership in my life and business?”
“Have I taken the steps to grow my leadership ability daily.”
If you answered ‘no’ to any one of those questions, you may want to adjust your sail before you head back to the office or reprise your online hustle. You may need to work harder on your leadership ability, but the results it will bring are worth the price you will pay.
I will leave you with this quote from Jim Rohn:
“Work harder on yourself than you do on your job.” -Jim Rohn