The Ultimate Guide to Being a Great Leader for Your Startup

About 90 percent of startup companies in the U.S. ultimately end up failing.

Some startups fail because they don’t have a strong enough product or service. Others fail because they attempt to scale up too quickly before they’re really ready to do it. And quite a few fail simply because they don’t have the right leadership in place.

Being a great leader is important if you want to give your startup a chance to succeed. Your company goes as you go, and if you’re not demonstrating an ability to be a strong leader, your business is likely going to be in trouble before long.

Do you need some help when it comes to being a leader? Contrary to popular belief, you don’t necessarily need to be born a leader to transform yourself into one.

Here are some tips for being a great leader for your startup.

Create Clear Business Goals for Your Startup From the Beginning

Your startup is your startup. That means that you’re in charge of coming up with the business goals that you want your startup to accomplish both now and in the future.

By setting clear goals for your startup, you’ll give your employees something to work towards in the coming months and years. You’ll also let them know that you have a vision for how you want to see everything play out for your startup.

This will set the right tone for your startup from the beginning and get everyone on board with you. They’ll believe in your vision and trust in you to guide them as you work towards the goals you have laid out.

Set a Good Example for Those Who Work Under You

When people hear the word “leader,” they often think of someone who is loud and boisterous yelling out orders to those around them.

Some leaders are like this. But most great leaders choose to lead by example rather than leading by telling others what to do.

If this is going to be your approach, think about how you want your employees to behave when they’re working.

Do you want them to be so committed to your company’s cause that they show up early, stay late, and skip lunch? Then you yourself need to be prepared to do all those things.

Being a great leader is often about setting an example for those under you and encouraging them to follow it without saying a word. Keep that in mind when it comes to everything from how to dress to how you behave when you’re in meeting with clients and investors.

Stay in Constant Communication With Your Employees

While leading by example is important, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t communicate with your employees regularly about what’s going on with your startup. Staying connected to those doing the dirty work is essential.

You should take time every day to speak with as many employees as you can. Tell them about any concerns you might have about the way things are going, and by the same token, ask them to express any issues they’re having with the way your startup is being run.

Try to keep your communication with your employees as positive as possible, even when you’re discussing shortcomings. You want to find solutions to problems you’re having, not make those problems worse by arguing about them and instilling a sense of fear in your office.

Be Decisive When You’re Asked to Make Important Decisions

As the leader of a startup, a big part of your job is going to be making decisions. You’re likely going to make a million and one decisions in between the time you wake up in the morning and the time you fall asleep at night.

Often times, those decisions are going to be difficult to make. You might not always know if you’re making the right call.

Don’t let that stop you from being as decisive as you can be when making a decision. If people sense that you’re not sold on a decision you’re making, they’re going to lose a little bit of faith in you.

Be confident and let your confidence radiate when it’s decision time.

Take a Look at the Mistakes You Make and See What You Can Learn From Them

Every decision you make isn’t going to work out for you. When you’re making as many decisions as you are, mistakes are bound to happen every now and then.

Being a great leader is about bouncing back from those mistakes and learning a lesson from them. It’s also about avoiding making the same mistake twice and using what you learn to make the right decision the next time.

You don’t necessarily want to dwell on the mistakes that you make for too long. But you do want to acknowledge them and vow to do better moving forward.

Your employees will do the same thing when you take this approach.

Show Humility When Things Go Right–and Take Responsibility When Things Go Wrong

When things go right for your startup, people are going to be quick to heap praise on you.

It might feel great, but don’t allow it to go to your head. Remain humble, and if anything, use the celebrations surrounding your company to motivate you to get back to work so that you can capitalize on them.

When things go wrong for your startup, on the other hand, people are going to be quick to put all the blame on you.

Many times, you might not deserve the blame. But this is your startup, so you have to accept it and take responsibility for what went wrong. Resist the urge to blame others for your company’s shortcomings.

Your employees will respect you more for doing this, and they’ll appreciate you for being a great leader.

By Being a Great Leader, You’ll Give Your Startup a Fighting Chance

Being a great leader isn’t going to guarantee you success. Unfortunately, the chances of your startup succeeding are still going to be small, no matter how great of a leader you are.

But don’t let that deter you from being a great leader anyway. Create goals for your company, set a good example, communicate, and do all the other things leaders do. It’ll help you sleep better at night knowing you gave it your all while leading your startup.

Read my blog to learn more about how to improve your leadership skills.