Relationships are the most important part of building a business.
I would argue that relationships are even more important than revenue because strong relationships and strong performance go hand in hand.
Now before I start preaching on relationships in business, I will insert a disclaimer: I'm not perfect! I've had my share of relationships that have gone sour, and to say I've learned a lot along the way would be a huge understatement.
Contrary to what many people believe (even the many acquaintances I know), I can be very guarded in my relationships, and that guard is a huge giant now in my business relationships. It wasn't always this way. There was a point where I would literally spend entire days just helping other people, saying "yes" to every request that came across my desk, and fearing
what people would think of me if I couldn't fulfill a request.
Now I know that keeping my guard up and protecting my energy allows me to give the best of myself in the relationships I have with this community and my clients. When I drain my energy doing things I really don't want to do, for people I really don't want to do things for, I deplete myself from the relationships in my life that matter the most. Other than my family and close friends, the most meaningful relationships I'm always working on building are those with my clients, employees, and community.
You + Clients
The way you manage your client relationships
* could make you very successful, or make you broke. The latter is what almost happened to me in my early stages of business.
I gave so much of myself to my clients, and I failed to set boundaries on my time and the scope of the projects I would work on. The client always got a lot more than we had contractually agreed to, usually without appreciating the extras, and making those exceptions soon led to unrealistic expectations. There were a few people I worked with that made me feel bitter, and I never ever want to feel bitterness like that again in my business.
My top tip for client relationships: Train your clients.
That's right, train your clients
.* This is meant in the most loving way so that everyone is on the same page regarding expectations of the work you're doing together and the relationship right from the beginning. After those expectations are set, my heart is wide open and I'm all in.
You + Your Community
She Takes on the World Inc. is a social enterprise. I want to be clear: social enterprise does not necessarily mean non-profit, even though that's what many people assume. We're a for-profit company focused on sustainable and scalable revenue that maximizes our profit so that we can use portions of that profit to impact the three philanthropic pillars we focus on: entrepreneurship, education, and empowerment.
For example, with the success of The Conquer Club and The Concord
,* my intensive mastermind, we were able to help build The Conquer Academy in Tanzania this summer. The opening of this school was one of the happiest days of my life, and I can't wait to visit next year. Projects like this are our "why" and the reason we work so hard to continue growing this company.
My top tip for community relations: Find a way to play your part, and use your business to give back in a way that feels in alignment with your personal and business values.
One of the best pieces of relationship advice I've received came from being a student of A Course in Miracles. The course talks about how no relationship is an accident, and each gives us a series of lessons we are meant to learn whether it be a relationship in our personal lives or our businesses. Each relationship is one giant mirror, so look carefully at the reflection you're seeing.
This blog entry was sponsored by Visa Business and the blogger received compensation for his/her time from Visa for sharing their views in this post. The views expressed here are solely the blogger's, not Visa's. 08/28/2014 from She Takes on the World. Blog was edited due to length.
Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution.