7 min read

11 Quick Ways to Become a Better Small Business Boss

If you become a better boss, your business will get better too. Explore 11 quick ideas you can put into practice today to become a better boss.
11 Quick Ways to Become a Better Small Business Boss

I think you’ll agree with me when I say: being the boss is one of the hardest parts of running a small business.

Yet so few business owners work on becoming better.

But it’s important that you work on being a better boss. It will drive better business results, lead to higher employee retention, and make life easier for you.

Why? Because people love working for a boss they admire and respect. You’ll have happier and more motivated employees. Employees that will work harder for you and actively solve problems before they even reach you.

Yes, your employees will look for ways to make your life easier. It’s the ultimate work hack.

In today’s post, I’m going to share 11 tips on how you can become a better small business boss that you can start putting into practice straight away.

1. Bring the energy

Make sure you bring the energy you want to see from your team. Energy and excitement are contagious. If you show up to work with energy pulsating from your body, it will reverberate around your business. This will make your employees happier, more excited about their work, and much more loyal to you as a boss.

Key takeaway: The culture starts and ends with you. Start each day with the energy you want to see from your team. Great bosses set the tone and show up every day high-fiving and smiling.

2. Make time for them

Great bosses regularly touch base with their employees to check-in on their progress and keep a pulse on the business. Organize weekly one-on-ones with all your direct reports so they can share their thoughts and feelings about the business, and life in general. These can be the best hours you spend each week as you’ll improve retention and collect intel on the business.

Key takeaway: Arrange to spend 1-on-1 time with every employee each week. Let them set the agenda, do most of the talking (you should listen) and ask questions. Be open and honest in your feedback when you do provide it.

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3. Focus on the best

Spend most of your time with your top performers. These are the people that contribute the most to your business, and you badly want to keep. It is far too common that the “squeaky wheel gets the grease” in workplaces. But this is a trap. Why would you spend your limited time fixing your worst employees (hint: they can’t be fixed) when you could be retaining your best?

Key takeaway: You should invest your time turning a 5x employee into a 10x employee, the payoff is far better than trying to make a 0.5x employee into a 0.8x employee.

4. Reward the best

The top bosses don’t spread raises and bonuses thinly across all their employees. They identify the top talent and make sure they are rewarded for their efforts. This will make them more likely to stay, and motivated to deliver even more for you.

Key takeaway: Don’t hedge your bets, go all-in on your best people by demonstrating your preference to reward performance with cold hard cash. It might even motivate lesser performers to up their games.

Bonus tip: Sure cold hard cash speaks to some employees. But often, and counterintuitively, some top performers aren’t driven only by cash rewards. Money is only one part of why some people show up to work and put in the effort. Find ways to reward top performers beyond cash by providing a great culture, working environment and learning opportunities. Sometimes compliments can go further than money, and they’re free.

5. Keep the best

A bird in hand is worth two in the bush. So the saying goes. Average bosses don’t understand this and end up taking their employees for granted. Great bosses realize that employees are choosing their job each day. Especially top performers, who typically have a lot of other options. It’s much easier to keep a top performer than it is to find another one. Shift your focus from replacing the employees who leave, to keeping the ones you have.

Key takeaway: Most small business owners and managers dedicate a lot of time to recruitment. Even so, you should spend twice as much time on retention as you do on recruiting because top performers are hard to replace.

Bonus tip: Keep top performers away from poor performers. You might lose a top performer if you put them on a bad team. Or they will fight to get poor performers kicked off their team. Both things you don’t need. Better to keep them apart and let top performers do their thing in peace.

6. Develop quirky rituals

Rituals are what make work fun, and your workplace unique. No-one can tell you what rituals to develop. You shouldn’t import them from other businesses. They need to develop organically in your business. But you should be on the lookout for fun times shared by your employees and then look to pour fuel on the flames and grow the fun time into a ritual. Develop inside jokes, bring in props or a team mascot to build rituals around.

Key takeaway: Encouraging fun and enjoyable rituals will make your employees feel like they are part of something worthwhile to spend their time on, and less likely to leave.

7. Proactively remove obstacles

Employees hate it when they keep running into the same obstacle over and over again. Or have to stop work or do extra work because a predictable and annoying barrier hasn’t been removed. As a boss you should form a habit, build a muscle around proactively removing obstacles.

For example, nothing demotivates a high-performing team like company politics. Great bosses stand as a firewall from all that nonsense so it doesn’t affect the team. Here’s another example: if you run a manufacturing business, organize for all the tools and raw materials they need to be delivered and organized at a technician's workstation the night before, so they are ready to go when they arrive for their workday.

Key takeaway: Great bosses are always asking, “How can I help my employees do their jobs better, easier or quicker?” They use this question to identify blockers and get them out of the way, before they become a problem.

8. Give up the credit

You’re not in business to take all the plaudits, not internally anyway. So take all the wins, good news and successes and transfer them to your employees. Let your employees take the credit. They want to impress their coworkers, friends, families and kids, so let them! They will get so much value out of these stories, at no cost to you.

Key takeaway: Great bosses don’t take the credit. They know that their team's wins are their wins, and that’s all that matters.

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9. Bring in the family

You should make every effort to win over the partners and families of your employees. It could mean giving them an extra day off for an important family event, or working to provide some flexibility in their schedule. Even rolling out the red carpet and making them feel special when they visit. Your job will be easier if you have loved ones at home speaking well of you.

The takeaway: Great bosses invest energy into their employee's partners and families. This sometimes means taking the time and effort to create space for their needs, or giving them special attention when they visit your business. It makes for a great investment.

10. Celebrate the wins

Imagine if you were on a team that achieved a big target or goal, and your boss just continued as if nothing had happened. You worked hard for that and then… nothing. You would feel deflated and less motivated to hit the next target. Don’t be the boss who lets this happen, find ways to celebrate the wins your team achieves whether it’s drinks, dinners, presentations or gifts.

The takeaway: The best bosses set clear goals, have measurable targets and then organize a celebration for their employees when they achieve their milestones. Employees love this, and it gives them something to talk and boast about with their friends and family.

Bonus tip: Make your welcome parties twice the size of the farewell parties. The time to throw the biggest party is when the employee starts, not when you’re sad they’re leaving. Great managers make onboarding special.

11. Provide permanent support

Believe it, your current and future employees watch how you treat your past employees. That’s why you should treat them well (it’s also the right thing to do). But also because previous employees are some of the best people to recruit back to your business.

The takeaway: Great bosses continue to support employees even after they leave the business. It even means helping them to find a new job, if that is the right thing for them. This is what truly great bosses look like, they care deeply about their employees and help them no matter what, even when they no longer work for you.

Final thoughts

Exploring new and novel ways to become a better boss is a surefire way to improve performance, increase employee retention and make your life easier (and more fun). I hope these ideas have provided you with some inspiration to take your business and relationship with employees to the next level.

Before you go...

We all know that small business is about doing the little things right.

The little optimisations, the high-impact tweaks and the 1% gains you can make to your business to make it a little better, a little more profitable and even a little bit more pleasant to run.

I have interviewed 500+ business owners, surveyed thousands more, and I am always probing for their best tips, tricks and hacks to improve their business. There are three that stand out above the rest and I want to share them with you.

Join my email list for free and I’ll send them to you right now.