Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending the Small Business Success Summit in Baltimore, MD. The highlight for me was hearing Rudy Giuliani speak about small businesses, which he believes are the backbone of our economy and of America. His talk focused on the leadership qualities that he thinks are important for small business owners.

Here is his advice for entrepreneurs like you:

  1. Have a strong and clear vision. Without one, how can you execute your business plan?
  2. Be an optimist. This doesn’t mean being a fool–it means being someone who sees problems as intellectual challenges and comes up with solutions.
  3. Have courage. Giuliani pointed out that it’s normal to feel fear when doing tough things, whether it’s launching a business, fighting a fire, or playing in the Superbowl.
  4. Plan relentlessly. Channel your fear into practicing presentations, testing products, and planning for events, advised Giuliani. It was the emergency plans he had already in place for NYC–for blackouts, for hurricanes, for suicide bombers–that helped him handle the unthinkable on 9/11.
  5. Build a team that complements you. Everyone has strengths and weaknesses, so figure out what your main weakness is and hire an employee who is strong in that area, whether it’s keeping track of details or making decisions.

Two other things Giuliani said really stuck with me:

  • If he could give kids anything, it would be a strong work ethic
  • He believes our society is over-regulated, and that small businesses would do better if the government got out of their way (when he was mayor of New York, Giuliani reduced the number of permits that restaurants had to get from 14 down to one!)

It was a really inspiring talk. What do you think: does any of this advice hit home with you?

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