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There are two types of entrepreneur – and both can be a good boss

I haven’t got to where I am today without making a few mistakes along the way, but I would like to think that now, most of the time, I’m a pretty good boss.
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But trying to get that perfect good boss balance of being a firm, but fair leader, that your employees respect is tough and it can often be a double-edged sword.

According to new research conducted by Crunch Accounting, bad bosses and lousy leadership are the biggest reasons for someone handing in their notice. To be precise, indecisive leaders with no clear sense of direction were the ones that topped the list.

Bad bosses outranked pay, stress and commuting amongst reasons why people are planning to hand in their resignation. Although we might not be able to help in terms of travel and the stress a person faces, surely we can all do a little more to be a good boss?

Over the years, I’ve come to realise that there are two types of entrepreneurs. There’s the natural leaders, that inspire people and galvanise a team into working well, and there are those that become entrepreneurs because they are a good plumber, salesman, computer programmer or whatever and want to take that step to becoming their own boss.

The latter are the ones that have the intention of running their business successfully and want to employ people more than anything, but don’t know how to manage them. This can lead to poor direction and cause situations like those in the survey, and people eventually want to leave.

Of course, it’s nonsense to say that you can’t be a leader if you’ve come directly from a trade or profession – you only have to look at my background to see that that’s not true. I left school at 15, became a plumber then worked my socks off to create a business.

Truth be told, it seemed the harder I worked, the luckier I got, but I know that this isn’t always the case, and industrious people can often make bad decisions, especially when they’re new to the game.

The trick is, if you’re such an entrepreneur, to surround yourself with people who are good enough managers to allow you to be the ideas person, and the champion of the business, while they keep the day to day operation running smoothly.

Taking the time to hold your hands up and admit that you need some advice to be a good boss can go a long way. To me, mentoring is hugely important, and learning from other entrepreneurs who’ve been in similar situations is vital in making sure your business succeeds.

It’s also helpful sometimes (and no sign of weakness) to adopt methods that others have effectively applied before you to become a good boss. After all you can’t invent the wheel every day!

I’ve come to realise just how valuable mentoring can be. I’ve given my advice and time to other fledgling entrepreneurs who still come and visit me at Pimlico today. It’s an opportunity to share experiences, both good and bad, to help them on their journey, and more often than not, I still end up learning something too.

I never had that opportunity when I was starting out, but I know how valuable I would have found it. Being an entrepreneur is exciting and hugely rewarding, if you take the right steps, but having more people fighting in your corner can only be a positive thing when setting out to be a good boss.

The survey suggests that being indecisive is the worst trait in a boss and that’s one thing I can definitely say I’m not. Once I make a choice I stick to it, but don’t get me wrong that trait has sometimes come back to bite me.

It’s your peer’s job to call you out on something that’s wrong, not working and let you know when your employees aren’t happy if you want to be a good boss. I have the utmost respect for the people that do this, but it’s also up to you as a leader to be aware of what’s going on. Ignorance is not always bliss.

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About Author

Charlie Mullins

Charlie Mullins, also an OBE, is the archetypal entrepreneur – having started his business from scratch and then building it into a multi-million pound enterprise. From humble beginnings growing up on an estate in South London, he left school with no qualifications, but after a four-year plumbing apprenticeship he started his own firm, Pimlico Plumbers, which now generates a turnover in excess of £30m and boasts many well-known names among its many clients including Simon Cowell, Helen Mirren and Richard Branson. He has been a regular contributor on Real Business since 2011 and is particularly about apprenticships.

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