There are millions of entrepreneurs, but only a tiny percentage of them ever become true leaders within their respective fields. What qualities and practices make it possible for owners of small businesses to develop leadership potential? While there’s no set formula for achieving such a high-level goal, anyone who starts a company can make a solid effort to maximize their chances of reaching the heights of their chosen industry.

It’s no coincidence that most of the visible, successful owners and entrepreneurs in every industry are heavily involved in community service projects, not just as participants but as motivators who spearhead efforts of various kinds. They also cosign for student loans when promising employees need help paying for college. Other effective approaches to building leadership skills include joining speakers’ bureaus and professional organizations. Consider using one or more of the following tactics if you want to become a leader within your segment of the business community.

Champion Community Service Projects

Pick one or two community service programs in your local area and get behind them 100%. It helps to select causes you believe in and are willing to devote time to. It’s not about giving loads of cash to charities. Instead, become personally involved as a board member, volunteer leader, or fundraiser. The goal is to get your company’s name and brand in the public eye, support a worthy charitable organisation, and acquire a few valuable skills along the way. Down the road this is also a great way to invest in employee development because you can bring your team in with you when you work to support the causes of your choice.

Co-sign for Student Loans

Co-signing for a student loan can change someone’s life. Without a co-signer, some applicants don’t stand a chance of being approved or getting a competitive interest rate. Be selective with your choices in this regard. It’s wise to limit the field of potential candidates to your top employees who need the financial boost to get funding for higher education. Your signature gives them a chance to attend college on a part-time or full-time basis, in person or remotely, while continuing to work for your business on a scaled-back basis. It’s a fact that owners who co-sign for their employees’ education loans tend to have the most loyal workforces.

Sign Up with a Speakers’ Bureau

Write at least two presentations and sign up with a local speakers’ service. Expect to do at least one audition for the bureau before they send you out on assignments, some of which are paid. Your goal here is to establish your business as a leader in the industry and build your personal brand as an expert.

Take Continuing Education Courses

It’s imperative to stay ahead of the information curve within your chosen field. If your company offers tax preparation services, take timely courses and seminars that cover the latest laws, auditing procedures, and filing guidelines. Seek out the best continuing education courses available. If there are none in your local area, travel to the closest cities to acquire fresh, relevant knowledge that will set you apart from most of your competitors. If you have an idea for a course, take the time to develop a pertinent syllabus and offer it, for a fee, to prospective attendees who can benefit from your unique knowledge and experience.