Creating and launching a startup to become a young entrepreneur is one thing. Becoming a successful business leader is another. You can think of it as the next step in your entrepreneurial journey.
WHAT IT MEANS TO BE A SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS LEADER
The exact definition of success may be different for everyone. However, most entrepreneurs can probably agree that, in general, success means making a profit. It also means reaching or exceeding the goals you set down in your business plan.
A successful business leader not only enjoys financial success but has emerged as a resilient and inspiring young entrepreneur. With the right classes and training, anyone can start a business. True leaders are those whose vision and personality can make that business into a household name, whether in their communities or all over the world.
THE 6 QUALITIES OF A STRONG TEAM LEADER
Even if you run your business by yourself, you need to cultivate strong leadership qualities. Why? Because you still work with others to build and grow your business. You may need to pitch to investors for funding. You might partner with another local small business. Perhaps you’re involved in a competition and need to present your enterprise to a panel of judges.
The key takeaway is that you don’t need a team to become a strong business leader. Work on cultivating these six qualities within yourself and you’ll be prepared for almost any challenge you face:
- Be strong without being a bully
- Try not to micromanage, especially when partnering with others
- Pro-actively work on this list of leadership development activities
- Maintain open and honest communication
- Delegate whatever you can
- Focus on your immediate goals as well as your long-term goals
BE A GOOD, ACTIVE LISTENER
Everyone has something to say. A strong business leader knows how to listen to their team, their customers, their mentors, and pretty much anyone else connected to their businesses.
Plugging up your ears and plowing ahead may seem like a power move, but what will the optics look like? Strength doesn’t come from bulldozing over others. Real strength manifests as the ability and willingness to pay attention when people have something to say. Sure, there will be haters and toxic downers out there that you will have to ignore. But everyone else deserves your attention.
You’ll know you’re a good listener when others voluntarily want to follow you. They’ll do so because they feel heard and respected.
As a college-bound young entrepreneur, we realize you already have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders. No one else can take your tests for you, apply to college for you, or take care of your household chores for you. And as a young person just starting in the business world, there’s a lot you don’t know and a lot of mistakes you’re bound to make.
What makes a business leader successful is that they don’t pass the buck when things go wrong. And things will go wrong from time to time. That’s just a fact of life! The best thing a young entrepreneur in your shoes can do is to acknowledge what went wrong, own it, and come up with a solution to correct it. Remember that redirecting isn’t a sign of weakness, but rather a sign that you’re smart enough to ditch what’s not working.
STAY CREATIVE TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD
Yeah, it’s an old cliché: think outside the box. But it’s true, especially for young entrepreneurs.
Think about the business leaders who have inspired you to take on this entrepreneurial journey. Did they find success by following the crowd? By doing the same old things in the same old style? Of course not! They’re innovators and disruptors. They saw how things could be done better, quicker, cheaper, more efficiently, and they followed their visions.
Young people like you are ideally suited to come up with inspiring, creative visions for ways to ride your business into the stratosphere.
BE FOCUSED YET FLEXIBLE
This may seem counter-intuitive and difficult to wrap your head around, but successful business leaders are focused on their goals while staying flexible.
What does that mean, and how do you do it?
First, make sure you write up a solid business plan before you get started doing anything else. This plan is your GPS. It gives you step-by-step directions to get you from Point A (your idea) to Point B (massive success).
But few paths are direct. There’s traffic. There’s construction. There are detours. You might get lost. You might miss your turn. That’s where flexibility comes in.
Your goals should stay the same, but your path may have to change course. As long as you’re flexible and don’t panic, you’ll get where you need to be by following and adjusting your entrepreneurial GPS.
INSPIRE OTHERS WITH YOUR LEADERSHIP
How do you know if you’re inspiring others? Well, they do say that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. If your best friend sees how well you’re doing and decides to start their own business, take it as a compliment. It means you’re doing something right!
You can also inspire even younger entrepreneurs through mentorship and coaching. Check if your high school has a mentorship program and consider taking a middle schooler under your wing. Kids love hanging out with older teens!
Inspiring others means you’ve done an excellent job of forging a path. It means you’re a true leader because other people look at you and want to be like you. They see what you’ve done and want that for themselves. Who wouldn’t want to be that kind of a leader?
Successful business leadership may seem like a daunting responsibility, but it goes hand in hand with entrepreneurship. As you move towards college and a career, business leadership skills will follow you. Whichever field you wind up in, whatever type of job you carve out for yourself, knowing how to successfully lead a business will help you stand out and get noticed.
Young entrepreneurs who attend high school in Florida may be eligible for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Click here to learn about what we offer and how to apply.