Date of Conferral



Doctor of Business Administration (D.B.A.)




Kathleen S. Andrews


Despite the important role small businesses play in economic success, 50% of small businesses fail within 5 years of startup. Some small-to-medium enterprise (SME) owners cannot sustain operations and face closure because of a lack of leadership strategies to operate their business successfully. Grounded in the transformational leadership theory, the purpose of this qualitative multiple case study was to explore leadership strategies that have been successful for SME owners in urban areas to sustain their business more than 5 years. The participants were 3 SME owners in urban areas of Atlanta, Georgia, who have been in business for more than 5 years. Data were collected through semistructured interviews and an analysis of researcher notes along with a review of each SME owner’s response to obtain information about successful leadership strategies. A thematic analysis process was used to analyze data; 3 themes emerged: focus on employees through training to improve performance, maintain the business by developing strategies for efficient operations and relate to the industry in which the business is operating. Key recommendations for SME owners include implementing employee performance training and developing strategic planning. The implications for positive social change include the potential for community enhancement opportunities through sustained employment and the leveraging of goods and services financed by SMEs increased and sustained presence.