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How Small Businesses Become Leaders

By Joe Caliri

About a year ago, the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) openly communicated his vision for the US Navy strategy and its direction. Since then, he’s been messaging about “The Navy the nation needs…”. In his comments he highlights a Navy which will be “bigger, better, networked, talented, agile, and ready”. As I hear him speak, I can’t help but think how corollary this is to what the navy and the nation needs from SimVentions and other small businesses alike. If we are to lead, and lead effectively, then all of us need to be “bigger, better, networked, talented, agile, and ready”.

   “Be bigger” … though the CNO was simply referring to more ships, it can be applicable to all of us. Be bigger in the moments you are provided, step into gaps when they are identified, and continue to attract the right people to join you on your journey. Big fish want to swim with other big fish; giants want to walk with other giants. Step into the big moments and be big. It’s not about size, it’s about your state of mind.

   “Be better” … none of us should think we are finished products. Try to look in a mirror before pointing fingers, assume the best about others rather than the worst, and think about what you can do to help any given situation. Work with your manager to define a better “you” and make it happen.

   “Be networked” … get to know your customer, company, peers, and paths up, down, and across the chain of command. While the chain of command needs to be involved in issues and resolutions, most solutions to non‐urgent needs can come from your network of coworkers. Also, take advantage of your existing network hubs such as company meetings and newsletters.

   “Be talented” … think about developing yourself as a solution for your company’s needs. Some of you that desire to be managers will need to make that transition into leadership and realign your focus. Those who want to have a bigger technical impact will need to determine what skills to sharpen up or even enroll in courses and learn. As small businesses, we’re going to have to gain new skillsets beyond what we have now to keep up with the growing needs of customers.

   “Be agile” … so, we become bigger, better, networked, and talented… this is great, but they are not maximized if we can’t move quickly nor easily. We can’t get bogged down in the details or with things that are in the past. Being agile and responsive is more important than being perfect. Being agile allows small businesses to compete with (and beat) the big companies. We can be “big” in moments and remain small at the same time when we leverage agility!

   “Be ready” … this is the call to action. Be ready to do what’s needed and pivot. The only thing certain is change will come. Healthy companies adapt and overcome. Those with ready employees do so not because of an external leadership mandate, but because of an internal motivation mindset. Remember, leadership starts with you!

As the CNO builds the navy the nation needs…together we will continue to build a small business that is bigger, better, networked, talented, agile, and ready.