There’s really no such thing as a solopreneur. Even the smallest businesses work with others to meet goals and provide products and services. At every stage, there are certain types of business relationships you need to maintain. It makes a world of difference when they are more than just functional. Especially these top ten relationships that will help propel your business to the next level.
Business acquisition may already be part of your exit strategy when you’re ready to retire. Or it could be a business plan milestone on your journey to become a serial entrepreneur. To achieve it at any stage of your business plan, you’ll need solid investor relationships.
Investors come in different forms for different businesses. They could be your clients or individuals who buy shares. That’s normally a more detailed route but indeed possible. Investors in your business could be as simple as your neighbor or a rich uncle. Savvy angel investors or venture capitalists could adopt your idea. In either case, these types of business relationships should be beyond asking for money when you need it.
2. Banker/Financial Institution/Lender
Cash flow is a huge determinant in whether a business is successful or not. That’s one of many reasons why banks and lending institutions will be around for the life of be business. Most businesses need to apply for business loans to start or expand their business. Credit history, references, and collateral are all factors for approving the loan. Still, it’s not always about the paperwork.
Lenders evaluate character during the loan decision making process. Personal details help them decide if you are likely to act responsibly with the loan. In some cases, it truly is about who you know. Getting acquainted with your banker will shed some light on the type of person you are. A long-term, authentic relationship with your bank could open financial doors for your business.
Consider your CPA as part of your extended family. At the fast rate that tax laws change, you need an accountant’s expertise. That’s not all you need the relationship for. When dealing with payables, receivables, or annual reports you need a professional you can trust. For goals like exiting or expanding business, they will be a crucial part of the process along with bankers and investors. It’s also helpful when you can pick up the phone and ask a quick question whenever you need to.
4. Legal Professionals
Just like tax laws change, so can laws in every other area of business. In fact, it’s not a bad idea to let your business attorney review major changes with taxes too. Your legal team should be just as permanent as the group handling your finances. Make sure you enjoy the types of business relationships you have with your legal professionals. Affairs like entities, contracts and human resources will keep them around on a regular basis.
Whether your company is the affiliate or you’re working with one, direct relationships are beneficial. It helps you cut out the middleman so you know more about each other and the product or service. That also means saving money by eliminating use of an affiliate network.
6. Business Coach
Like a fitness coach or sports coach, a business coach is there to help you win. With their guidance, you’re able to set a clear vision for the future. You can also organize and delegate current tasks for better productivity. The expertise of your business coach helps you grow your company and revenue.
Like a partner or good friend, a business coach holds you accountable for the goals you set together. You will have to share details about yourself and your company for positive results. So it helps to have a trusting relationship.
Small talk with vendors will keep you informed on the latest trends for your market. Staying in the loop can get you new products or equipment, which could help you better service your clients and generate more revenue. It can also ease the stress of filling large purchase orders.
Access to accounts with Net 30, 60, or 90 day terms can make payments more flexible . If you’re ever having cash flow problems, trying to make payment arrangements is an easier discussion with someone who genuinely cares about your success.
Being in the same industry doesn’t make you enemies. There is a such thing as healthy competition. In fact, building these types of business relationships with competitors could help you learn from seasoned entrepreneurs. Coming together can spark new ideas and collaborations that help you all win. Take social media groups for example. Bloggers and business owners often join groups in similar industries. In the groups, they share ideas, ask questions, form partnerships and help each other promote.
Employees are known as your most valuable assets. Even those on the lowest level of your organizational chart are contributors in operating a successful business. Take interest in them and they will be loyal in return. That loyalty will come in the form of high production, creativity, employee retention and people who actually appreciate you as their boss.
Harvard Business Review suggests that having wholesome conversations with more listening and less talking gets better results than loading employees with perks. It not only fosters a healthy relationship, but also a strong business with the right talent in the right places.
Without people finding value in what you offer, there would be no business. That’s all the more reason to go beyond a transnational relationship with customers. They love when you get to know their interest and tailor products and services around them. Caring about their satisfaction and following up will take your business far. Those types of business relationships will retain your current clients and multiply them.
How to Build Different Types of Business Relationships
The most important part of building business relationships is to be genuine. When you’re just starting out, try a few cordial gestures:
- Extend a lunch invite
- Ask about them and their lives, businesses, families, etc.
- Have a company outing or party
- Plan an appreciation for business affiliates
- Get out in the field with your employees
- Sit down for a cup of coffee with fellow industry leaders
Even if you’re in business for yourself, you should never be in business by yourself. You will always need financial resources, affiliates, legal counsel, and your most precious assets (employees). Your team will help you achieve more business success than you ever could alone. When you’re ready for success, stop thinking of your small business as an individual effort and recognize a variety of experts as part of your team.