Everyone who decides to throw the proverbial caution to the wind, quit their job and become an entrepreneur hopes that things will work out, and they will have success. However, things are infinitely more complicated than we would all like to think. There are some crucial relationships that one needs to form, in order to become a successful entrepreneur. No man is an island, and we all need help, in some way or another. Especially when it comes to business, you rely on the good grace of others in a lot of different instances. Therefore, here are the 5 business relationships that you need, as a successful entrepreneur.
While this list is in no particular order, the first has to be banks and bankers, because they are directly responsible for your financial stability. Chances are you are going to need a line of credit – especially in the beginning, you will need a start-up loan. And in order to receive it, you need to maintain good relationships with your local banks and bankers. How can you achieve that? By making your payments on time, first of all. If your name comes to be associated with poor or late payments, it’s difficult to get out of the dog house.
Another thing you can benefit from when you have a close relationship with your bankers is ensuring the safety of your money. They can help you set a system in place that can secure your finances and make sure that your deposits make it through and no one can embezzle from you or other such actions. It pays (literally) to form a tight relationship with your banker.
Of course, employees are also vital to any business you may want to set up. To strike gold in this department, you have to do a good job finding and choosing people who are professional, qualified, serious, and dedicated to their job. But that is not enough for them to make your company flourish; you also have to inspire them. This is where the vast majority of “bosses” go wrong – they vastly underestimate their relationship with their employees, when that is arguably one of the most important of all.
In order for your employees to work well, you have to make sure you maintain satisfaction. People have to be fulfilled in the workplace and be inspired and encouraged by their leaders. The mistake most entrepreneurs and people in management positions make is that they equate more time spent working hard with good results, more money and a growing business. But you should know better: you catch more flies with honey. That means that treating your employees with respect, compensating them fairly, and making sure they have time for their personal lives will be better for you in the long-run.
Every entrepreneur knows that customers can make or break your business. No matter how hard you work, how organized your company is and how intelligent your business concept is, if the customers are not happy, not stimulated, and not attracted, you either lose them, or you don’t attract them in the first place. In order to ensure the success of your business, you have to ensure the happiness of your clients.
Now, customer satisfaction is achieved by paying attention, first and foremost. You have to put yourself in their shoes and ask “What would make this a positive experience for them?”, “What can I do to ensure good customer service?”. A good product or service that fills a need is essential, but so is excellent customer service – engage them on social media, make the experience personal, make them feel special. The benefits are twofold: first of all, you retain your existing clients. Second of all, word of mouth will travel about your business and how much you value your customers and that will act as free advertising, essentially.
Most businesses rely heavily on vendors, and unless you build a solid, trusted relationship with them, you might find yourself without essential items, not only when it comes to the product you might be selling, but even basic stationary or materials. You cannot afford not to be in your vendors’ good graces. The trick is to think of them as your employees, which means that you have to show them the same respect and attention. Get close to them, always have a means to contact them and make sure that, should an emergency happen – such as you needing to pay late, or needing materials urgently – they will be there for you.
A business relationship that is also a personal one is mentorship. When you’re starting your own business, you need all the help you can get, from anyone who will listen. But most of all, you need someone with experience and extensive knowledge who can guide you. Find someone you look up to, a successful entrepreneur you would like to emulate, and ask for their advice. Again, this works in your favor in two different ways: you get the help you need, and you establish a positive business relationship. Remember always to show gratitude, treat them with respect and acknowledge their insight – it will pay off.
If you’re an entrepreneur, the investment in relationships is the best investment you will ever make. Take the time now to build them and your business will soar.
This article originally appeared in Inc. Magazine.