8 Leadership Skills Every Small Business Owner Should Cultivate


Being a business owner is a dynamic and demanding role that requires adaptability as well as continuous growth. Here, Young Entrepreneur Council members share the skills every business owner should aim to cultivate this year to be a more effective leader and why these skills are key for the success and longevity of their companies.

What’s one skill any business owner should aim to cultivate this year to become a better leader, and why?

Leadership skills small business owners should focus on honing

1. Emotional intelligence

In the dynamic landscape of today’s business world, one skill that’s paramount for any business owner aiming to be a better leader is emotional intelligence. In a world where adaptability and human-centric approaches are increasingly valued, emotional intelligence emerges as a key skill for leaders who aspire to thrive and make a meaningful impact. —Adam Toren, Kidpreneurs.org

2. Curiosity

Great leaders constantly ask questions. Why is the customer unhappy? What more could the product do? How can an employee grow more this year? Then, they listen carefully and ask follow-up questions. When all the ideas have been brought to light, they encourage both exploration and failure—because creativity and innovation can only happen when the team is not afraid to try. —Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia

3. Written communication

Good written communication is an increasingly important skill as we continue to operate with remote workers or freelance hires around the world. It’s especially crucial since it allows leaders to work with their teams asynchronously, minimizing the friction of coordinating in-person meetings or scheduling calls. —Firas Kittaneh, Amerisleep Mattress

4. The ability to manage your well-being

The number-one area that will impact your business and leadership is the ability to effectively manage your own mental, emotional, and physical state. Build a daily routine that helps you prioritize your mental, emotional, and physical well-being so you can operate at peak performance. Your energy sets the tone. Invest in yourself daily and watch your team soar. —Kevin Getch, Webfor

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5. Digital literacy

I think business owners today should cultivate digital literacy in order to survive the evolving market dynamics. It’s essential to get acquainted with the latest tech trends and be familiar with the relevant tools that can help streamline business operations. We live in a digital age. So, to grow your business, it’s important to have the ability to leverage viable solutions that fit your needs. —Chris Klosowski, Easy Digital Downloads

6. Agility

If we’ve learned anything from the last few years, it’s to be prepared for anything and everything. One of the best skills to cultivate in 2024 is the ability to lead in unpredictable and ever-changing environments. To successfully steer your team through ongoing challenges, learn how to make agile decisions. Make it your goal to foster a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. —Blair Thomas, eMerchantBroker

7. The ability to motivate others

One of the most important skills for a business leader is the ability to motivate and bring out the best in others. This goes beyond simply making motivational speeches and requires you to study the needs and goals of each person. Try to identify what drives every member of your team so you can find the best way to communicate with them and inspire them to perform their best. —Kalin Kassabov, ProTexting

8. Creative problem-solving

A crucial skill for any business owner is creative problem-solving. Cultivating this skill improves a leader’s capacity for adaptability, strategic thinking, and overcoming challenges in the ever-changing business landscape. It makes people more flexible, stimulates critical thinking, and helps businesses succeed by finding creative and innovative solutions to problems. —Jared Weitz, United Capital Source Inc.

About the Author

Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC) is an invite-only organization comprised of the world’s most successful young entrepreneurs.

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