Everyone knows that you can’t grow a business without a team. Yet too often entrepreneurs and small business owners focus their attention on everything except how they are leading their teams. Entrepreneurs forget that not everyone is like them -- seeing the big picture, knowing where the company is headed, anticipating the next move. I have discovered when working with small business owners that they often overlook the importance of leadership. But leadership is the fuel that sparks business growth. In this article, I focus on the importance of entrepreneurial leadership.

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When I think about entrepreneurial leadership, I’m referring to something bigger than simply treating your employees well or motivating them to get the job done. It’s about making a complete change in how you regard your company. Once you view your business through a leadership lens, you will see that the burden of running your business does not fall on you alone. It’s an extremely uplifting and positive framework for entrepreneurship.

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Being an effective leader means looking both inward and outward for answers, whether you’re trying to solve a large, general problem like surviving a recession or a smaller, specific one like collecting a debt. You need to have a deep understanding of yourself and what drives you, while at the same time viewing your work as being part of a bigger whole, as a mixture of synergies that involves many other people. You may be the creative force behind your company, but you need other people to make it a success. That’s where entrepreneurial leadership fits in.

Here’s what it takes to be a entrepreneurial leader.

  1. Know yourself. -- Entrepreneurial leaders know who they are and what is meaningful to them. They have a purpose in life and work, knowing why they started their companies and why they lead them. They understand how their businesses fit into their industry and their community.
  2. Have a vision and be able to articulate it. – An entrepreneur leader must have a vision of what his or her business is all about: what it does, how it serves its stakeholders and where it is going. The vision cannot be vague. An entrepreneurial leader must be able to articulate this vision, so that others are inspired and will join together to work together for a common goal.
  3. Develop employees and help them grow. – Entrepreneurial leaders are committed to the people who work for them. They help employees develop their own talents and skills. Employees make a commitment to you, when you make a commitment to them. An entrepreneurial leader also knows that it’s essential to help employees grow, so that the business can flourish into the future.
  4. Listen carefully. – Entrepreneurial leaders always listen to employees, clients, mentors, and others. They makes decisions based not only on their own understanding of the facts and situations, but also based on what they are hearing from a variety of sources. Therefore they not only create productive workplaces, but they provide clients and customers with the products and services they need and demand.
  5. Implement new ideas. – An entrepreneurial leader is willing to innovate and take risks -- in good times and bad. The business climate is always changing. Being flexible and finding opportunities to launch a new initiative, a new strategy, a new product or service is key to business success.
  6. Take good care of yourself and stay curious. – Entrepreneurial leaders take time for themselves and for being with family and friends. They relish vacations, hobbies and interests outside of work. An entrepreneurial leader needs time for contemplation -- to be able to see his or her business through a different lens. But most importantly, they stay curious. An entrepreneurial leader is always interested in what is going on in the world and never stops learning.

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Once you apply these techniques to running your business, to problem solving and decision-making, you will find that you have created a whole new paradigm for growth and accomplishment. Being an entrepreneurial leader is a powerful way to succeed in today’s world of rapid change and intense competition.