I started my online business like most entrepreneurs – I wasn’t finding what I was looking for, so I decided to create it. I was a first time mom and had a baby who wouldn’t sleep. I was frustrated at the lack of flexibility and personalization when it came to baby sleep information online. I found nothing that seemed personalized to my situation. Now, five years later, I pride myself on offering what others can’t – personalized sleep advice unique to their baby’s needs. Here are 10 leadership skills every entrepreneur needs to run an online consulting business.
The most important leadership skill to run your own business is learning how to manage your time. In a typical 9-5, there are others telling you how and what to do with your time. When you’re in charge of a business, it’s all on you. You have to be able to decide what needs to be done and when it will be done, and how much time to allot to each task. With poor time management skills, you’ll find yourself in an unorganized mess, left with incomplete tasks and a growing to-do list.
Focus is important. You have to be able to focus on a long-term goal through hyper-focusing on short-term steps. When I started growing on Instagram, I had short-term goals: create daily content, and interact with X amount of other accounts daily. This was so that one day I would be on a stable platform where I could devote time to other tasks and not have to spend as much time creating content. These small goals paid off. Today I have well over 100,000 followers. When I started out I only had a few hundred.
Knowing where you’re going is key to planning all the steps and following through. For the first two years of my business, I was just going through the motions. Getting clients, helping clients, getting clients, repeat. It wasn’t until I realized I could create a whole brand that my business started growing.
I find it hard to believe that you can be successful entirely by yourself because I have had so much support and help from others along the way. Being able to create and maintain relationships is crucial to the longevity and growth of your business. If I have good relationships with my clients, they will leave good reviews, stick around and engage with my account, which helps to build the community I market to. If I have stable relationships with my team members built on trust, transparency and honesty, we can be real with one another when things get tough, and come out stronger on the other side because of it.
The internet is a fickle brick and mortar. Reliability hangs by a thread and your reach depends on things you cannot control every day. So you have to learn how to adapt to different curveballs and platforms so you can keep growing with the times. Decades ago, business went through insane changes every few years, now the radical changes come every few months. You have to be prepared to ride the waves.
You gotta get creative! This is the fun part! You could be the very best coach there is in your field and yet have no clients because you’re simply not reaching them. You have to use all and any leadership skills you have to find them and build funnels to maximize your time and effort. Social media is a great tool to express your creativity, reach niche audiences and build organic, real relationships.
This is the hardest leadership skill to have and master. Being the sole decision-maker in a successful business is not an enviable position. You can’t turn around and ask someone, “So, what do you think we should do?” When you’re an entrepreneur, the “we” is just YOU. You have to be confident in your choices and accept failure and success as part of the journey. In entrepreneurship, there will be both.
The truth is you won’t be able to run the business by yourself if you want to grow – you’ll have to delegate. I struggled with this immensely when first starting out. I wanted to have control and do it all myself, but I couldn’t. I hired a website developer and other part time consultants and now we’re a team of five! I had to build a team I trusted slowly. I put my faith in them to help me to continue to move the business forward. Being the face of the business, it is my duty to show up on Instagram and I had to make sure I prioritized my time for that by delegating the tasks that didn’t necessarily need to be completed by me.
Communication is vital. If I don’t express my needs to my website developer, the website won’t get updated. If I don’t update my team on a new freebie we’re offering, they won’t be able to communicate that in consults and my clients won’t get that needed information. It goes without saying but communication is vital in every aspect of business, both internally to externally.
When it comes to leadership skills, it’s important to know yourself and know your limits. Know your burning-out signs and listen to your body when it’s begging for a break. Know that a break doesn’t mean quitting, it means just resting to be able to go again. When Baby Sleep Answers started to grow exponentially, I kept working until I came very close to a mental breakdown. I didn’t know myself. Now, years later and having five employees under me that count on me, I know when I need a break, I need a break – whether that’s a vacation or just a few days off my phone. Taking a break allows me to come back refreshed and recharged. By doing this, I’m able to show up for my employees, my clients and my family and friends, too.
Andrea De La Torre is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Answers. She is a baby sleep consultant and mom of 3. She is certified through the Institute of Pediatric Sleep and Parenting and offers fellow parents all her tips and tricks on her Instagram, through virtual consults and through her ebooks. She has worked with tens of thousands of moms to help them understand their unique baby’s sleep needs and help them feel better rested.