You've always wanted to be your own boss and now you are, you've promised yourself you'll never make the same mistakes your last one did. That's all well and good in theory but will it work in practice? This guide looks at how to be a great leader and manager and get the most from your staff and how to benefit your business.

  • Leadership skills
  • Managing staff
  • Motivation
  • Public face

Leadership skills

Not everyone's cut out to be a leader or manager and you need specific skills to be a good one. As a manager you'll need to be an excellent communicator and this doesn't just mean telling staff about the good times. You'll also need to be capable of conveying bad news. Managers also need to be approachable and not just a face in the office, your staff, especially if you're running a small business, should be able to come to you with queries and ideas fearlessly. It's also a big must that you're confident, as staff rarely trust a nervous manager.

  • Work on your communication skills. Written are just as important as verbal and tone is absolutely key
  • Even if you're extremely busy, make yourself available and have regular catch-ups and contact with your staff
  • Be confident, if this doesn't come naturally look at courses or books that improve confidence skills

Managing staff

Now you're the boss, you'll be responsible for managing staff. You may have had experience of this in previous employment but it's your business now and the way your staff performs can ultimately effect your livelihood. If you don't have any HR staff, the chances are the day-to-day managing will be down to you. Be fair but firm, setting rules from day one means everyone knows exactly where they are. You'll also need to be aware of employment law and employee's rights. These are stringent now and you must make sure you comply with them to avoid any repercussions.

  • Making your staff aware of who's in charge doesn't have to mean being a dragon! Being firm but fair will earn you respect
  • Keep up to date with your staff, their personal lives and take time to chat to them about things other than the business
  • Keep staff up to date with changes in the business, especially if it affects them


Motivation is absolutely essential for keeping your staff interested in the company and feeling content at work. You could own the best business in the world but if you're staff are de motivated then you have a problem on your hands. Rewards are important, such as staff lunches, Christmas (and if you can afford it summer) parties. Staff may also work harder if you give them Friday afternoon off, encourage them to do activities for charities and allow them to express ideas. But above all, it's the simple things that also count; a smiley, cheery boss is far better than a miserable one, a boss who says good morning and good evening is likely to have a more motivated staff and even buying the odd cake or packet of biscuits will make staff feel appreciated and motivated.

  • Maintain a feeling of solidarity by taking staff out to lunch or for after work drinks
  • Offer to sponsor them for charity events and have an early finish day from time to time
  • Make them feel involved, respected and important

Public face

As well as looking after your staff, being a leader and owner of a company, is also about getting your business out there into the public domain. It's essential that your company have a public face, as you're ultimately the person who knows the most about it, it should be you. This means making yourself available to the press and attending and hosting networking events.  By doing all these things, it could give you the edge and ultimately the profitability over your competitors.

  • Talk about your business all the time, especially if you're seeking financial backing
  • Make yourself available to be interviewed by the press, it's the best PR you can get
  • Attend and host networking events

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