Following years in corporate America, you decide you’re ready to work for yourself. So, you start a business. You hustle. You learn as you go. You do good work. Your business booms! Pretty soon, you can’t keep up with all of the demands, so you hire someone. And pretty soon, you’re leading a small team of employees.
This is a familiar story. A lot of small businesses start off as one-man or one-woman shows before they slowly expand outward. There can be some growing pains here, especially as the one-time solo entrepreneur (or solopreneur) has to adapt to a team leadership position.
What can you do to ensure that this transition is a smooth one? How can you learn how to become a really productive, transformational leader when you’re used to flying solo? Let me offer just a few solutions.
How a Solo Entrepreneur Can Become Transformational Leaders
The best place to start is by cultivating some self-awareness.
- There are a number of personality tests you can use to help you here, like the Enneagram. You can also talk to your closest friends and loved ones, asking them to help you map out your strengths and weaknesses.
Come up with something like a self-portrait, or at least a summary of what you do and don’t do well. This is invaluable because it allows you to hire people who can fill in the gaps, being strong where you’re weak, rather than doubling down on your existing vulnerabilities.
Hire the right team.
- Being a transformational leader begins before you have any employees. In fact, it begins with the hiring process.
As you hire a team, you want to have some sense of your culture, and recruit people who fit in with that—but it’s also important to hire people with diverse backgrounds and points of view.
Most importantly of all, when setting up a small business team, you want to get employees who are passionate; people who really want to be part of what you’re doing; and people who will leave all their negativity at the door.
- There’s no point in hiring people if you’re not going to delegate some tasks to them. The question is, what can you give your employees to do?
One way to think about it is to divide your tasks into the simple and repeatable tasks that anyone can do (bookkeeping, for example) and the value-adding tasks that only you can do (like developing long-term strategy).
You can start delegating the tasks in that first column and try to slowly entrust your employees with more and more autonomy.
Have a sense of mission.
- What are you ultimately trying to accomplish with your business?
What’s the underlying thing that drives you?
I’m not asking rhetorically. By knowing this, you’re in a better position to align your team with a broader sense of purpose; to light a fire under them and let them know that they can make a real difference.
And in a lot of ways, that’s what transformational leadership is all about.
One more thing: Remember that, while you may have many years of experience in the industry, your employees may not. And they’re not mind-readers, either; they won’t always have a clear sense of your expectations unless you really spell things out for them.
All that to say, mistakes will be made—and it’s important to be prepared for that. As a solo entrepreneur you don’t want to be the boss who makes people feel like garbage just because they make an error. Instead, you want to be a leader who helps employees learn from mistakes and move forward.
Are You A Solo Entrepreneur Who Is Looking to Take a Step Closer to Being A Transformational Leader?
And, my Solutions Oriented Leader book is now available to order online. In this first-of-a-kind, comprehensive guide, I’ll lead you through the everyday challenges of the modern workplace while providing you with easy-to-implement solutions to achieve world-class results! Get your copy today!