New BusinessTALENT

Startup Leadership Done Right


As the head of a start-up business, do you have “the right stuff” –– the key leadership qualities that can lead to business success? Numerous management articles tout the “10 key leadership qualities” or “5 essential leadership skills” that entrepreneurs should have. These are our top 10 traits for small business owners.

How to Have a Vision and Inspire Others With It

You need to have an overriding purpose for your business, and you must be able to share it with others—employees, investors and customers—and get them to buy in.

  • Begin by creating a compelling vision.
  • Share your vision and encourage people to get on board.
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How to Set Clear Goals and Stay Focused

Setting goals and maintaining a focus on achieving these goals is critically important for start-ups. Apply your vision to specific, achievable, measurable goals. Set short-term and long-term goals for the business, and keep track of your progress.

  • Start by setting clear goals.
  • Monitor and measure your progress.
  • Revise your goals regularly as necessary.
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How to Communicate Clearly

Sharing your vision is an essential start. Take it to the next step. Be clear, succinct and specific about your vision, your goals and everything about your business. Work to create an open two-way flow of communication that fosters an open culture of sharing information.

  • Communicate clearly with your business partners, employees, contractors and vendors.
  • Listening well is the key to effective communication.
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Be More Effective at Giving and Receiving Feedback

Getting continuous feedback from customers is the foundation of healthy, responsive businesses that are continually trying to improve. The same goes for small business owners and leaders. Create a culture of continual feedback.

  • Establish your openness to learning and improving.
  • Shed your ego and get others to do so as well.
  • Teach your team how to give and receive feedback and the value of being open to and learning from others.
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Know Your Strengths and Weaknesses and Those of Your Team

When starting a business, you have to overcome challenges. So, it’s important to have an optimistic spirit. However, you also need to be realistic, and know your strengths and weaknesses. You should play up your strengths while addressing any weaknesses. The same applies to the strengths and weaknesses of your team and your business.

  • Assess your strengths and weaknesses.
  • Create strategies to capitalize on your strengths and those of your business.
  • Address your weaknesses and those of your company.
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How to Know When to Call In Outside Business Experts

Part of addressing your weaknesses as a leader as well as within your organization is to get help from outside experts who can fill in or add value where and when it’s needed. That can allow you to spend more time and energy exploiting your strengths, and it can improve your company’s overall results.

  • By knowing your strengths and weaknesses, you can discover where you need help.
  • Do your due diligence to find the right external resources.
  • Make your expectations clear to your consultants and monitor their performance.


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How to Create a Culture of Teamwork

Successful companies grow out of a supportive atmosphere, where employees feel appreciated, listened to, empowered, and are motivated. As the leader, it’s up to you to create that culture.

  • Include employees in decision-making.
  • Be open to feedback and respond positively.
  • Be supportive of others and ask how you can help.
  • Encourage everyone to take risks, and be supportive even when they fail.
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How to Be Accountable and Demand Accountability

If you expect accountability from your employees, as any leader should, you need to set the tone by holding yourself accountable.

  • Set high standards and always be honest, especially if you come up short.
  • Nurture accountability by rewarding others for honesty and integrity.
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How to Manage Costs Well

Cost management is critical for start-ups and small businesses in general. Part of that is not paying more than you need to for any goods and services. Also, look at the bigger picture and evaluate whether processes or ways of doing business are efficient and cost-effective.

  • Always keep costs as part of the equation.
  • When evaluating business activities, consider costs and benefits as well as value.
  • Instill cost consciousness among all employees.
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How to Execute Effectively

Vision, goal-setting, teamwork, communication, accountability… These are all important aspects of business leadership and ingredients of success. But in the end, you need to deliver. The ability to execute effectively is key.

  • Begin by setting standards.
  • Performance measurement and rewards will help.
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