When you open a business, the world comes at you with a lot of advice--your family, your neighbor, your dentist--everyone has an opinion. Mine is that there are three independent roles you need to play as a business owner to be successful: leader, manager and executor. Most people fall naturally into one or two of these categories but it is critical to dedicate time to developing each skill-set.


To start, you need to recognize that you are the leader for your business. At the end of the day, success or failure is all on your shoulders. It can be a daunting thought, but you can do it if you take charge.

Not all small business owners think of themselves as leaders. It's a shift in mindset to move from execution mode to leadership, but you need to do it to elevate your business. Step outside of the day-to-day operations of your business and look at things from a higher level. Ask yourself these questions:

  • Can you articulate your vision and strategy?
  • Where do you see your business in a year? In five years?
  • Who is your target customer? How are you going to reach them?

After answering these questions, spend some time mapping out your long-term goals and determine how you can reach them by acting as a leader rather than getting bogged down by the little things.


With your leadership mindset and your high level goals, you need to manage your business by laying some groundwork for success. Surround yourself with people that are going to help your business grow. Your employees and partners should all know your business goals and your plan to get there. Transparency will insure everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goal.

Target the right customers for your business to thrive. In Marketing 101, you learn you can't be all things to all people. Take the time to conduct research and identity your target audience--those customers that are going to be the most valuable to pursue.


After determining your goals and laying the groundwork, focus in on the individual steps needed to reach your ultimate goal. Identify the steps and then determine who should execute. Train your employees and rely on them to execute day-to-day tasks so you can focus on being a leader and growing your business. Outsource tasks to vendors when you don't have the expertise. 

It's important that you don't spread yourself too thin. Hone in on being great at a few things rather than mediocre at all things. There is great value in all three of these skills--leadership, management and execution, but you need to carve out separate time to dedicate to each.