There are a number of different things that set a small business apart from its competitors, from a sound financial plan to competent leadership and skilled employees. However, a misstep in any one of these categories could cause the entire operation to come tumbling down.

Therefore, management and ownership has to be on the top of their game in order to keep the company on the right track. A quality enterprise starts at the top and works its way down, so an emphasis should always be placed on improving these critical aspects. If this sounds challenging, there are thankfully plenty of creative strategies to get the process started.

That being said, here are six tips and tricks to become a better small business leader:

1. Take it one step at a time
The path to a fantastic, prosperous small business isn't short, and it instead takes some time and a fair bit of effort. Lee Colan, founder of the consulting firm The L Group, wrote in Inc. magazine that great leaders have to take baby steps. This can mean dipping into one new tool at a time, such as mobile banking or tablet computers, and then expanding from there. Once a trait becomes a habit, it is time to include other resources. This will allow managers to gradually get a grasp on all the new industry trends out there. 

2. Don't be afraid to ask questions
Small business owners should never be afraid to ask questions, from inquiring about financial investment advice to leadership tips. Colan explained that it is imperative that the right questions are brought up to best help the company expand. The goal is always to get the ideal answers, and tailoring queries to suit the company's needs can be a very good thing. 

3. Step back and listen
Leaders of a small business may be tempted to constantly be talking, directing and managing the company. However, there should always be time set aside to step back and listen to what others have to say. Doing so can prevent blind spots from popping up, Colan noted, and also help remove any weaknesses before they become problems. Other people can provide crucial insights that may not have otherwise been obvious.

4. Collaborate with colleagues
Small business owners can't do it all alone. Leadership expert Holly Landau shared some advice with Karen-Michelle Mirko, a contributor to the American Express OPENforum, about how to become a better leader. Landau stressed that communication is a must for any successful company. 

"Entrepreneurs are constantly coming up with new ideas, but sometimes they forget to share them," she told Mirko. "That can leave them wondering why others aren't on the same page as they are."

Therefore, sharing is a key component of any prosperous venture and sound financial plan.

5. Hire people with opposing views
It may be tempting to bring in a bunch of people who are like-minded, but this can cause problems for a small business. Landau advised hiring people with different opinions to best cultivate growth at the company. Too many people who are essentially the same won't get a lot done, and instead, it is better to think outside the box. Clear job descriptions can help achieve this goal.

6. Allow other leaders to form
While a small business owner is at the top of the food chain, there is no reason why other people within the company can't assume some measure of leadership. According to Landau, this can lead to better employee development and additional creativity. Better yet, this tactic allows upper management to focus on other important tasks, while confidently knowing that day-to-day operations are in good hands.