Small-business owners need people management skills for growth

As small-business owners are looking to grow their businesses, it is important they strengthen their people management skills in order to successfully lead their companies. Often, small-business owners start their businesses based on their technical strengths, but they sometimes lack people management skills that it takes to develop a strong work force, says John Krubski, research advisor to The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute in New York City.

For instance, the CEO of a computer software company may be one of the top computer developers around, but that same CEO may not be the best at motivating employees and helping them reach their potential. While it is important to know the industry, small-business owners also need to understand how to get the most out of their employees.

In other cases, small-business owners sometimes struggle with delegation, Krubski says. Many are used to being so hands-on that they have trouble having bringing in others to help. Research also finds that not only does delegation help the business run smoother, it also gives owners more satisfaction. In fact, according to a recent survey by The Guardian Life Small Business Research Institute, 75 percent of higher-growth small-business owners say their businesses allowed them to have more satisfying experiences with their families, as opposed to 64 percent of revenue-declining small-business owners.

“What we’ve discovered is that when a small-business owner begins to look to others and rely on others, they tend to grow better and faster,” Krubski says. “The people who are obsessed are probably doing more themselves than they should.”

Small-business owners should also tap into their people management skills when it comes to planning, and they can do so by touching base with their customers to determine what challenges they face, says Sheryl Kovach, entrepreneur and president and CEO of Kandor Group, a human resources consulting firm in Houston. By doing so, small-business owners can better understand their clients, which helps them identify possible new services, products and growth opportunities.

“Reach out to your customers and find out what their needs are,” Kovach says. “Take the polls. Take the temperature of the customers and find out how they’re feeling, what they’re thinking and what their challenges are because their world is constantly changing.”

Connecting with customers is especially important in a tough economy, Kovach adds. Just as competing in this type of environment is difficult for small-business owners, consumers are also suffering, and by helping them navigate through this climate, small-business owners can provide an added value.

“In a tough economy, it’s all about controlling and managing costs,” Kovach says. “If you can find ways to help your customer or even perspective customer manage costs even further, it’s going to help you get more business.”


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