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Your products and marketing materials can set your business up for success, but the right small business management practices will push your business forward. As an entrepreneur, you can surround yourself with engaged employees who are eager to help or you can lead a staff that is ready to quit.

How you manage your team and your business as a whole can mean the difference between turning a profit and just getting by. It’s time to grow—follow these tips to lead by example.  

1. Inspire and Empower Employees

As an entrepreneur, you can handle your employees in two ways: you can manage them or you can lead them. Managers are task-masters. They spend their days working through checklists and waiting for employees to make mistakes or miss parts of the processes. Leaders empower. They provide feedback to employees and check their work, but trust that they know how to do their jobs.

“Autonomy is the umbrella for choice, independence, solitude, and empowerment,” Stan Phelps, keynote speaker and employee engagement specialist, writes for Forbes. “Autonomy is also a key driver of happiness in the workplace.”

Great small business management includes finding ways for employees to grow their skill sets, cross-train, step into new roles, and drive their careers forward. This will inspire them to do their best and push themselves for the betterment of your company.

2. Learn How to Delegate

One way you can inspire employees is with delegation. By delegating tasks, you can take the burden off of your shoulders, allowing you to focus on big-picture tasks while your team members grow their skills and responsibilities. Delegation is challenging; it requires giving up power and trusting that your team members will get the work done. What’s more, there’s a right and wrong way to delegate:

“Often, managers think that they are delegating when they assign tasks to employees. Sometimes this is merely dumping on people,” says Sam Lloyd, author of the book Accountability: Managing for Maximum Results.

Sam continues: “Real delegation is assigning responsibility for outcomes along with the authority to do what is needed to produce the desired results.”

Delegating doesn’t mean handing off tasks and managing them. It means passing off a goal – like marketing a product or updating the website—knowing that the employee you give the responsibility to will do a good job developing and executing a solution. 

3. Develop Concrete Processes and Systems

Small business management is critical during the first few years of your business, which is when it’s important to begin developing processes and systems. This helps you standardize best practices across the company while automating where possible and setting precedent for employees to come.

For example, you should have a hiring process that allows each candidate to go through the same steps. You need an onboarding process that helps team members learn. You need to standardize employee evaluations, pay rates, promotions, and other human resource processes so team members are treated fairly.

These standard operating procedures will protect your company and ensure that each employee is treated with fairness and respect.

4. Hire Based on Soft Skills

As you build your team, you’ll likely vet candidates based on their hard skills. After all, the employee’s title and daily requirements are typically what you post in job descriptions online. However, don’t forget to evaluate soft skills along with hard skills.

Soft skills differ from hard skills in that they refer to innate talents that are hard to train because they come from employee experience and personality. Soft skills include:

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Communication
  • Emotional intelligence.

It’s much easier to teach someone how to code than to teach them empathy. Soft skills are so important that LinkedIn’s 2019 Global Talent Trends found that 92 percent of talent professionals thought soft skills are equally or more important than hard skills, and 89 percent said a new hire doesn’t work out because they lack soft skills.

5. Promote Transparency

Transparency is increasingly important in small business management. It’s important from a management standpoint because your employees will fill in the gaps without it. As Jessica Miller-Merrill explains in a recent Glassdoor article:

“This type of openness between managers and employees creates trust and leads to a successful organization. In one way or another, that is every single company’s goal: to be continually successful at what they do.”

Your team members want to be treated as adults, and that starts with honesty and transparency. However, this isn’t a one-time thing. You have to continually build trust over time. Miller-Merrill says, “Transparency is an ongoing process that can have ongoing results. When it is promoted and maintained over a period of time, it will have exponential results.”

Good Small Business Management is a Learning Process

By constantly practicing good habits, and continually building your small business management skills, you can build a business—and a team—that’s set up for success. Use these tips to take your leadership to the next level and inspire your employees to do the same.