4 pillars of business

Leadership for Self Employed Business Owners

Small business leadership
You may never have considered yourself to be a leader. But when start your own business and become self-employed, that is exactly what you must become, even when you are a one-person operation. So, in this section we review the pillar of leadership for self employed business owners.

We hear the word ‘leadership’ tossed around on a near-daily basis. From childhood, the ideas and concepts of leadership engulf us.

When we were toddlers, we looked up to our parents. When we were school children, we followed our teachers. We have all had managers and bosses. Most of us have voted for leaders.

We all know what a leader is. …or at least, what they should be.

The textbook definition of leadership certainly doesn’t hold any surprises:



  1. The action of leading a group of people or an organization.
  • The state or position of being a leader.
  • The leaders of an organization, country, etc.


There have been countless books written on leadership. Some of the most famous have even become a cultural phenomenon.

I mean, who hasn’t heard of “The Art of War”?

These leadership books have answered a litany of questions:

  • What makes a great leader?
  • Who was a great leader?
  • Why is leadership important?
  • How can I be a good leader?

When you become self-employed, leadership comes with the territory, whether you end up leading a team of people, or just need to manage yourself to get what is best for you and the ones you love.

The Importance of Leadership in a Business

Early in my business career, when I was still a one person business, I attended a seminar with Michael Gerber. Michael is the author of several books including ‘The E-Myth’ and ‘The E-Myth Revisited’.

I have always remembered a saying I first heard Michael say at one of his seminars:

“The fish stinks from the head down”.

If there is a problem in the business, look at the leader. For example, if delighting customers is not a priority for the staff, it is more than likely that it is not a priority for the business leader. (It will almost certainly not be something that the business leader considers important enough to measure and manage.)

According to the CEO Institute, “Leadership is the major factor that makes everything work together seamlessly; without leadership, all other business resources are ineffective.”

Leadership in a Self Employed Business

Now most discussion about leadership looks at leading others. So, it would be easy to assume that this does not apply to you because you are in a one-person business.

But my strong belief is that leadership is just as important for a self-employed person who works by themselves.


Well, when you work by yourself, it can be quite overwhelming because you are responsible for EVERYTHING.

I think it is fair to say that most self-employed people get so engrossed in doing the work of the business, that we tend to neglect all the other things that are important for business survival. Things like making sure there is work in the pipeline, managing your cash flow, meeting your tax requirements and reporting obligations and so on.

As human beings, we also tend to go to our comfort zone and spend time on things we like doing instead of things we should be doing.

For example, not many people like chasing customers who owe you money, so that gets left on the back burner despite the fact that poor cash flow is one of the main reasons for stress in business owners.

This is also confirmed in a study conducted by CBInsights which disclosed: “Tackling problems that are interesting to solve rather than those that serve a market need was cited as the No. 1 reason for failure, noted in 42% of cases.”

Personal leadership is critical if you are going to maximize your potential.

So, let’s take a more in-depth look at leadership, not necessarily to inspire you to become one, but to steal a little bit of what makes a leader great – so that you can use it in your own life to succeed on your terms.

In the next section, we will review the ten skills every successful small business leader will possess.


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