Step 4: Build Your Key Relationships
“If you could do it by yourself, chances are you’d have done it anyway by now”, how many times have you heard someone say that? Reality is most people struggle on by them-selves trying to do everything in their business. This is fine if you want to end up exhausted, working all hours available and still not reap the rewards you know you deserve. It’s an easy trap to fall into.
The truth is most activities while vital to the smooth running of your business, do not earn you an income. They are expenses. If you’re the business owner then you need to concentrate the majority of your time on sales and marketing to grow your business, while outsourcing everything else.
Building a successful business is about ‘relationships’ and finding those key people who will make it all happen for you. Firstly, it’s about the team you build around you to grow your business. This team should consist of experts specialising in their particular expertise. For instance, my team consists of a virtual assistant for administrative tasks, technical support for online marketing, design/graphics persons for creative flair, and a book-keeper for accounts. I also use a number of specialised services already set up and easy to use. This allows me to concentrate my time on supporting my clients, business development, and sales & marketing activities. And if you notice, my team is a ‘virtual’ team.
The second part in developing key relationships is in putting together a high performance team that matches your business needs. You need to be able to identify those people who compliment your personality and skills and fulfil a valuable role on your journey to success.
Build a virtual team around you to grow your business, giving you the right balance of complementary skills. Understanding team dynamics of motivation, nurturing, challenging and working through stressful times are skills used in all successful relationships.
Building relationships is also about setting firm boundaries and guidelines with those people you work with, do work for, or go into joint ventures with. This prevents you from falling into difficulties (or falling out with someone) at a later stage.
Let me give you an example of lax relationships that could cost you your business. A building firm found out to their great cost that they should have set up a firm contract at the beginning of the working relationship. But they were so busy doing the work for the client that they’d not got round to setting up a firm payment structure. By the time the building company got round to invoicing for their work, they were owed over £265,000. The client, who was a ‘good friend’, went into liquidation and the building company never received any payment for their work. This almost cost them their business and yet, it’s totally avoidable.
Often small, family run businesses have difficulties because they’ve brought people into the business based on an emotional decision rather than what is best for the business. For instance, to help a family member who needed a job! Or, to motivate someone to do something positive with their life. The reality is these people are not always the best choice for your business and if you’d interviewed them under normal circumstances, you’d never have given them a job!
Most problems with relationships or teams will often show up as follows:
SYMPTOMS include …
- Arguments, bitching or placing blame
- Lack of motivation or lethargy, lateness, absence
- Low commitment to personal role
- Not following regulations
- Speaking negatively about the business, team or individuals
- Poor contribution in the workplace
- Complacency in their role
Use your list of business activities you set out in step 1. Do the tasks match up to the person currently completing them? Does the relationship work well? If not, why not?
Are you still doing everything yourself? Then it’s time to look at outsourcing some of those tasks and building your virtual team. Who would you like to have on your virtual team? Make your list.
Do you set firm agreements with everyone you work with?
Do you have a firm agreement when setting up work contracts or undertaking joint ventures? Are your payment terms and conditions clear? Do you state your lead times? What do you say about your delivery and quality of service? What’s your cancellation policy? What is your guarantee?
Relationships can make or break your business. Setting firm boundaries or formalising arrangements early on prevents problems later. It also says a lot about you, and your expectations for your business success. People will take you much more seriously. They are more likely to trust you and want to work with you when you have set clear boundaries. This gives your business a professional front.