If you’re setting up a business for the first time, one of the first things you will do is draw up some form of business plan.
As helpful as they are in getting your priorities in order, you’ll find almost no mention of ‘relationships’ in any template you find online. It seems to be the strategic keystone that is missing!
From a business standpoint, relationships are vital for gaining new customers, retaining existing customers and managing your reputation – without them you won’t be growing your business any time soon.
Make no mistake, whether you’re talking about clients, employees, prospects or partners, these are the secrets to your success…
Whilst you’re probably insanely capable, driven and could take on the world alone, this approach will only get you so far.
If you want to go fast, go alone.– African proverb
If you want to go far, go together.
Cultivate your vibe
Any business owner will know, vision and drive are responsible for getting you this far.
Your ‘why’ (why you do what you do) should be as solid as your ‘what’ (what service or product you provide).
Combined, these should form your core brand messaging to your market.
Many businesses are afraid to draw too much attention to what makes them unique, in fear of polarising their audience – somehow feeling safer to stay in-line with the status-quo.
However, the rewards are great for those who are brave – attracting returning customers, precisely because of their point of difference.
Embracing what makes you different might not get you all the clients, but it will attract the right clients that align with your brand and business goals.
Hire great partners
One thing that might seem counter-intuitive (in a world where every book and social post is about bettering yourself and facing your weaknesses) is to in fact, not to bother wasting time working on your weaknesses. Yes, you heard right!
Building on your strengths instead and hiring great partners to do the work of your weaker side, will complete your jigsaw puzzle and elevate your business to new levels. Why do a mediocre job of the work that you can outsource to other professionals instead?
“We create stress for ourselves because we feel like we have to do it.”
Grow your support network
The idea of turning up to a random talk, in a place full of strangers can be intimidating for anyone. It’s just one of those things you have to face – meeting new people, exchanging ideas and drawing on the experiences of others is a crucial part of understanding your competitors, the market, and your place within it.
“Good things happen to those who hustle.”—ANAÏS NIN
You may strike up conversation with future clients, or come away with a new contact that can help you with that problem you’ve been trying to figure out for ages. Best of all, you could find yourself a network of supportive professionals to collaborate with.
Just remember, these types of events are full of people who feel just like you do, so find your confidence and throw yourself in feet first.
Community over competition
There’s nothing quite like being part of a support network of engaging and passionate professionals who are in the same business as you. Fresh perspective, new ideas and accountability pals are a great way to support and learn from people in your industry.
Showing some vulnerability within your business circles fosters trust and encourages an open dialogue, which can lead to a multitude of opportunities and room for development. Skip on the closely guarded secrets (of course), but don’t write off those who are genuinely interested to know more about you and what you do. It’s a two-way conversation you can take full advantage of and come away more knowledgeable than when you entered into it.
Often those we might initially consider ‘competition’ are forging their own paths, so comparing and competing is simply wasted energy. We are all unique to our customer bases, each with something different and wonderful to offer.
Get comfy outside your comfort zone
Nothing productive ever came from within comfort zones, that’s surely got to be a fact! But if you put yourself out there and push your boundaries, you will find the rewards are worth it. As always…
…with growth comes opportunity
So, if you’ve been bumbling along in a flat rhythm or you’re newly established and just getting off the ground, why not give some of these tips a go and see where they take you. It will be worth it, that’s a promise!
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Written by Lisa Bamforth