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5 Tips on How to Transform from a Sole Proprietor to a Business Leader Being an entrepreneur is not a destination, it's a journey!

By Radeesh Shetty

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Running your own business and being your own boss can be very alluring. It also comes with its own set of challenges though. Raising the capital, building your brand of products/services, reaching the customers and the risk of unlimited personal liability are just a few of them. It would be wise of you to be aware of all the facets of running a business and devise a plan accordingly before taking the plunge.

Let's assume you've been successfully running your business as a one-man army for quite some time. You have done your research and analysis and found that there's a potential to grow. So you hire more people to build your team, either to help you with the production, marketing, customer servicing or managing the administration. Now, you find yourself not just responsible for the business, but also for your employees and their future. This expansion in business also means a change in your role, from a business owner to a business leader.

So how do you make this transition? How do you grow to be a business leader? Here are 5 tips that you might find helpful in your journey.

1. Retain that Enthusiasm

Remember the initial days when you started off with your business? You had all the energy and chutzpah that helped you survive and reach the next level. Your enthusiasm, and belief in yourself and your business idea helped you overcome all the initial failures and hurdles. Well, keep that handy "cause you'll need it even more now while growing your team. If the captain of the ship becomes wary about the journey, imagine the state of the sailors! Similarly, as their leader, your team will look up to you for inspiration and commitment to the business.

2. Empower Your Team

You can't be an expert in all matters and there's no harm in accepting this fact. It's prudent to hire a specialist who can do a job for you so that you get more time to focus on the other crucial tasks. But hiring a specialist doesn't fulfil the need until you empower and enable your employee to do the job properly. Empowering will give your team the leeway to work as well as make them accountable for their decisions regarding specific tasks. This will also help boost their confidence and trust in you as a leader.

3. Lead by Example

Be a leader not just in your words but also in your actions. In other words, practice what you preach. If you are asking your team to be fearless and not stress about failures then live those words for real when such a situation arises. When you say one thing and do another, you are not only confusing your team but also showing them that you are not reliable. This will soon impact your internal work environment as well as the relationship with customers and partners.

4. Be Fair

Acknowledge your team for their contributions and reward them for their splendid performance. Treat them equally and give them equal opportunities to showcase their skills. If there's been a mistake, be genuine and own it up. Let your team know that you are aware of it and have taken corrective action to counter the impact. After all, they also have a stake in the company for contributing their time and effort.

5. Be a Clear Communicator

Don't expect your team to read your mind to know your thoughts. Spending sometime interacting with your team whether in a formal/informal meeting or through email, will help them work with you better. Clearly communicate your vision, plan and expectations with the team and invite them to contribute to it.

Your team may not be with you for their entire career but they'll always remember how you treated them. By doing your job perfectly as a business leader you have the power to unleash the cascading effect of good leadership.

Radeesh Shetty

Director of The Purple Turtles

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