Some might say that persistence and creativity are keys to success in business while others might define success by how much money they and their business make. Running a business requires creativity and drive, and the outcome of doing things well is profit which is critical to long-term sustainability.
But I would venture to say that the core to success is all about relationships. Relationships with current and past customers and employees. Relationships with your community and non-profits. Relationships with competitors and business leaders. Last, but certainly not least, is a solid relationship with yourself and those in your circle of family and friends.
Wait – I thought business was about being heartless (how many times have you heard people say ‘it’s just business’ as an excuse for their behaviors or actions?). I thought business was all about black and white decisions without room for emotions, not about having solid relationships with people I interact with. Isn’t it a dog-eat-dog world?
Ugh – do these strategies actually work long-term? I don’t believe so. When you think about it, business is just about people having transactions with other people. The one constant is people and relationships – it doesn’t matter the product or the service; solid relationships always win out. Solid relationships with current and past clients always generates more business and creates stellar reputations along with referrals. Solid relationships with current and past employees generates amazing results with people who actually want to help you, as a business owner, build your business and wealth.
Think about a time when you, as a customer, had a bad relationship experience with a business whose product or service you love. Yet, based on a bad experience you no longer spend your dollars with that establishment. From the management side, bad relationships with employees makes it harder to recruit and retain a great team. Which, in turn, makes it harder to create a profitable, sustainable business.
It is that simple. Build solid relationships with those you interact with through your business and you will thrive. The challenge is that many leaders are lousy at building strong relationships. There I said it. They aren’t authentic or transparent with their team, they are only focused on developing themselves and not their people, they don’t care if a customer leaves or has a complaint, and they don’t care about relationships in their industry or community. I guess you can say that leaders that struggle with building relationships are selfish in their own right. Yup, I said it again.
I guess I am tired of seeing amazing employees who are willing to work so hard for the business owner and end up burned out and beaten down — not by the job or customers, but by the lack of leadership and relationship building skills of the owners. Leaders who keep everything so close to the vest that employees, who are willing to go to battle for the leader, get frustrated and leave.
If you want to grow your business, ask yourself these questions: How are the relationships with your customers and employees? When was the last time you did a reality check on how you are doing as a leader? When was the last time you reached out to customers, current and past, to see how your firm is doing in their eyes? If it has been awhile, you know your action items for this next month. You may be surprised that you learn and find new opportunities and areas for opportunity that will lead to your company’s sustainable growth.