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The exploratory case study, with a positive deviance approach, was used to address the problem that online small business leaders lack effective leadership skills and actions. Generally, online small business leaders face challenges separate and unique from traditional ground business leaders and different than big e-commerce business leaders who are turning ground businesses to online global businesses. Specifically, online small business leaders lack effective leadership skills and actions to address the unique challenges of online small businesses, resulting in a 90% first-year failure rate. Ten online small business leaders answered interview questions to explore best practices and processes. Data analysis revealed six themes of online small business leadership qualities but not particular leadership qualities practiced by online small business leaders. The major six qualities of the online small business leaders in this study consisted of having a passion and intrinsic motivation for their work, having a heightened awareness of time and time management, maintaining old fashioned face-to-face interactions, historically having someone of positive influence in their lives, being adaptable to change, and having high problem-solving and decision-making skills. Based on these new findings, more exploration of how these online small business leadership qualities could contribute to higher success rates is recommended.


Leadership Styles, Leadership Practices, Online Leaders, Online Businesses, Exploratory Case Study.
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