Top Tips for Leading a StartupBy: Kate Samano April 16, 2021
Innovative products and engaged employees play key roles in your company’s success. However, they can only take your startup so far. A strong leadership team enhances employees’ strengths and ensures operations run smoothly. Unfortunately, when leaders struggle in their roles, the results may put the entire company at risk.
Don’t let your startup become another failed business venture. Review these practical leadership tips and tricks to help maximize employee retention, customer satisfaction and company revenue.
Why Is Strong Leadership Important for a Startup?
Approximately 90% of startups fail, and more than 1 in 5 don’t even survive beyond the first year. These statistics may seem discouraging, but they’re actually an excellent reminder of the importance of a solid leadership team.
Strong leaders can tackle issues as they arise and even identify potential problems before they escalate. When something goes wrong, a good leader can keep morale high among employees. This may prevent your best workers from jumping ship while you work out the kinks in your new business.
Think about a time when you or a coworker felt frustrated by someone in a position of power. You may have made comments like, “He doesn’t know what he’s doing!” or “She’s not even qualified to run this company.”
It’s stressful when leaders don’t know how to lead their team, especially when you’re dealing with a startup. Sure, you’re all growing together, but employees still need some stability and job security. Nobody wants to feel like they’re working for a company that’s on a downward spiral. An effective leader reassures workers that the company can and will succeed.
What Leadership Practices Are Helpful in Leading a Business?
Every leader has their own unique personality traits and approach toward business. However, there are some essential leadership practices every supervisor should master before working with your team.
The business world is constantly changing, so what worked yesterday might not work today. A strong leader understands this and welcomes change rather than avoiding it.
Stagnant leadership occurs when a leader becomes stuck in their routine rather than constantly striving for improvement. This makes it difficult for your company to grow over time, as nothing really changes.
Flexibility also impacts how leaders treat employees. Does your management team truly understand the work style and goals of each team member? Rigid leadership can stifle creativity and make it difficult for employees to do their jobs.
Good leaders are realistic, but they’re also optimistic and have a great deal of faith in the company. A strong leader believes in themselves — and their entire team. They know they have the skills needed to accomplish daily tasks and achieve long-term goals.
Compare these two comments:
“I hope our company can make it through the winter. I don’t know why they trusted me to manage this mess of a sales team.”
“Winter is rough, but I’ve got a solid plan for our sales team. I’m so excited to work with such a great group of people.”
The first comment is something you might hear from a leader who lacks confidence. The second comment comes from a leader who believes in themselves and values their team.
Communication is vital in any relationship, whether you’re discussing vacation plans with your spouse or brainstorming product ideas with your colleagues. An effective leader knows this, which is why they interact with employees regularly. This may occur via verbal communication, written communication or digital media, such as prerecorded video updates.
Employees cannot succeed if they don’t understand their role in the company or where the startup is headed. Because of this, leaders should provide performance-related feedback, information about company policy updates and ideas for company growth. When something goes wrong, a strong leader should discuss what happened rather than pretending everything is fine.
Every employee is good at something. However, these strengths aren’t obvious to every worker. That’s why leaders must also act as mentors and empower employees.
Let’s say you have a loyal yet reserved worker on the marketing team. She arrives on time for each shift and remains productive throughout the day, yet she’s always quiet during meetings. In this situation, your employee may benefit from a leader who offers genuine, skills-based praise.
A leader can say something like, “I saw the brochure cover you designed, and I love how you incorporated the bold font.” After that statement, a leader focused on empowerment may mention the employee is an asset and an integral part of the company.
Leaders should offer feedback regularly and provide solutions when an employee is struggling. For example, let’s say the shy employee we mentioned above is struggling with programs such as Canva or Photoshop. She has brilliant ideas that she can sketch easily on paper, but she needs help with her digital skills. In this situation, the company can help cultivate her skills by offering to pay for a course that teaches these programs.
Powerful leaders don’t just show up to work each day and play it by ear. They know what they expect from their team and have a solid plan for the company’s success.
Leaders can’t always create a company vision on their own, though. If you are a startup owner, make sure your leaders understand the goals you have for your business.
Where do you want to be next month? What about next year? You should know this, and so should everyone else on your leadership team.
What Do Good Leaders Do to Keep Their Business Running?
Strong leaders need traits like flexibility and effective communication skills, but their job doesn’t end there. If you want your company to run smoothly, here are some things your leadership team should do.
1. Offer appropriate feedback
Employee feedback should occur regularly. When an employee does something good, compliment them in real time. When something fails, gently correct the employee and help them devise a solution.
Make sure feedback is consistent. Don’t tell an employee they did a great job on a task then criticize them for a task performed the same way the next day. Leaders should also make sure feedback is consistent across the board so that employees are all treated fairly.
An integral part of that feedback is a regular performance review. Workers should meet with their managers on an annual, bi-annual or quarterly basis to determine how they can enhance their strengths and work on their trouble spots.
2. Set a positive example
Your team reflects your leaders’ work ethic, behaviors and expectations. What kind of message does it send if you have a manager who arrives late each day while muttering about how they hate their job? Your attitude in the workplace can make a significant impact on employee morale and how happy staff are to work for your startup.
Leaders should follow the same rules they enforce for employees, not work on finding exceptions to them. They should remain an example of productivity and positivity throughout the day. Leadership classes can help if your management team needs an extra boost. It takes time to learn the ins and outs of startup leadership, even if you hire a wonderful team.
3. Conduct regular meetings
Employees should know what’s happening at the startup where they work. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen at every business. Some workers show up for shifts and blindly stumble through each workday with no long-term goals.
You can prevent this problem by having leaders host regular meetings. Meetings should address common concerns, company growth and other important factors. You can also share customer or client feedback during this time so employees know what’s working and what isn’t.
Lendzi Helps Build Strong Leaders Every Day
Even the best leaders can have their plans derailed by budget constraints. Lendzi understands that finances play a vital role in how leaders run your startup, which is why we offer several options for businesses just like yours. Reach out to us today for information about everything from business term loans to merchant cash advances.
We also have information about the best business credit card and the best business bank account for startups. With these funds, you can grow your business in ways you never imagined were possible. Buy new equipment for your office, enroll employees in digital training courses, or send your management team to an out-of-state seminar.
Your options are limitless, and Lendzi is here to help your business thrive. Talk to us about your goals today, and we’ll help you figure out how to achieve them. We’re excited to join you on your journey as a startup owner.