How to be a business leader

- November 16, 2012 2 MIN READ

Being known as a ‘business leader’ makes you more attractive to the media, but how can small business owners earn the title?

I’ve been thinking about the phrase ‘business leader’ lately.

You see it used a lot in the media. And it’s sometimes misused. Many business owners and experts use it to describe themselves when they are not, in fact, business leaders. It’s used so often, it’s easy to forget what it actually means.

As a someone involved in public relations, there are certain things I look for before describing someone as a business leader.

Industry involvement

The first thing is whether they play a role outside their business. It might be a role in their industry, such as getting involved in the national association. And not just as a participant – they’d need to be actively involved: making changes, challenging the status quo, demanding improvements or raising the bar in some way. In other words – leading their industry.

Take a look at the people you most admire in business. What roles do they play beyond their company? They might be involved in broader organisations such as a chamber of commerce or a women’s business association.

A strong voice

Business leaders have a strong voice. They speak at conferences and events. They are the ones who take a stand and question how things are done.

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When a business owner contacts me, I ask a lot of questions to help me understand who they are and how influential they are. Do they have a voice beyond the four walls of their office? Where does that voice reach; who listens to it?

I ask these questions because it helps me present them as authorities when I speak to media. I also like to see evidence of a strong voice because it tells me they have convictions and passions, which are essential qualities of business leaders.

Becoming a business leader

So, can small or micro business owners become business leaders? You bet!

It takes great courage and conviction to lead beyond the walls of a small business or home office, and I see small business owners and consultants doing it all the time. These people work in a field they’re absolutely passionate about. They’ve been on this path a long time; have plenty to say about it, and are out there spreading the word.

Being a small business owner can even be an advantage in establishing oneself as a business leader. There is no internal bureaucracy or red tape stopping you from getting involved in causes or organisations you believe in, as there sometimes is in a corporate environment. Taking a stand, voicing your opinion and making yourself heard are great for helping small business owners get noticed by clients and prospects.

Establish yourself as a voice in your industry and get involved in activities outside of your business, and you might just be deserving of the title “business leader”.

Are you interested in becoming a business leader?