“We are not a team because we work together. We are a team because we respect, trust, and care for each other.” ~Vala Afshar, Salesforce
Life – and business – are a lot easier if you don’t travel through them alone. Yet so many business owners try to do just that.
We get it. It is really difficult to delegate – especially those tasks that require an in-depth understanding of how you think and your short and long term goals. Are you guilty of this? Stop! It’s not only counter-productive, it’s an almost sure way to fail in business. Why?
You should be focused on growing your business. The only way to accomplish this is to develop long-term and essential relationships – with your in-house team and those you hire to support and promote your business.
How can you learn to delegate better so you can focus on growth? With carefully cultivated relationships. Here are a few examples, along with guidelines to help you nurture those relationships which best work for you and your business.
Great ideas come from collaboration – understanding alternate viewpoints and getting ideas from people who think differently from you is like suddenly being able to see all the facets on the diamond. New ideas spring forth almost faster than you can write them down.
Does your business need a partner or two who might complement your skills? Certainly, a marketing firm needs people who write, design, understand SEO, have an in-depth comprehension of the psychology of prospects, and great communication skills. Many of these skills belong to vastly different types of personalities. Combining those skills can create a team that is exponentially more powerful than they were when working solo. Here’s what to consider when forming a business partnership:
- Do your values and ethics align? This is probably the most important thing to consider. If you have very different business values or ethics, you cannot work together long term. When you share values such as a devotion to impeccable customer service and a great work ethic, every decision you make together will have those values at the core. It will define the very nature and philosophy of your business.
- Common goals. Do you share common goals for the business? If you want to grow and your business partner is happy staying small, it will eventually create conflict.
- Are your skills complementary? If both of you are really good at writing, but neither of you is a technology guru, you are still missing the essential piece that made you consider a partnership in the first place. Look for someone who has amazing skills that you lack.
- How much time and effort are you willing to put into the business? If you have no problem with long days and working weekends when necessary and your partner wants to leave at 4:30 every day and have weekends off, you’ll have a problem. It’s fine if you both agree to a minimal work schedule – as long as you’re in agreement and you accomplish what you need to do.
- What is your work style? In order to succeed, you’ll need to stick with a plan long enough to implement it. You’ll also need to be flexible enough to adapt and adjust if that plan isn’t working. If one of you is enamored by new technology to the extent that it interferes with the ability to follow a plan to completion, it will become difficult for you to know what is working for your business. Choose someone with whom you can make plans and stick to them as long as necessary – yet change course when needed.
It takes more than a conversation or two to truly unearth the answers to these. Ask the hard questions. Compare your work. Talk about scenarios that might occur with clients and discuss how you might each handle these. Create a business plan, which includes a plan for growth and clearly defined roles in the business.
Collaborations With Other Businesses
Another valuable relationship can be in the form of a collaboration with a complementary business, often in the form of a subcontract arrangement. Perhaps you aren’t in a position to have a business partner, but occasionally you need a skilled professional to perform tasks for clients. Here are a few examples:
- You own an upscale restaurant – partner with an upscale Bed & Breakfast to give customers an amazing experience
- Are you a builder of high-end homes or a developer of retirement communities? Create a collaboration with an interior designer who specializes in working with your ‘ideal client’
- Do you design or develop websites for businesses? Find an excellent copywriter who specializes in writing for business
The process to choose these complementary businesses should be much the same as the one we outlined for choosing a business partner. After all, most of these collaborative relationships may be a contractor/subcontractor arrangement, which means that your reputation is at risk – you’re entrusting your client to this person. Choose well, and nurture that relationship with gratitude and respect. These businesses may be among your best referral sources.
Long Term Relationships with Clients
Why do our long term relationships with clients work so well? Three essential elements:
- Common values – integrity, work ethic, transparency, etc.
- The ability to listen
- The ability to envision a client’s future success
Assuming your marketing team is doing their job, a long term retainer contract with them allows you to truly learn about your business –your passion and values. This learning curve doesn’t occur overnight. But over time, having a relationship with your key team in which you are both working toward the same goals can be magic.
Think of it this way: You have a business. You hire a videographer to shoot a commercial. Then you hire someone to do print media. Another professional does your website. A social media marketer handles your social media.
None of them communicate. Your goals aren’t met because no one really knows what they are. Everyone may do what’s expected of them but that’s where it ends. These separate professionals are task oriented instead of goal oriented.
Contrast this with hiring one team who provides all of the above. In general, the Marketing team you hire to create the plans and strategies will work with the rest of the team to ensure your goals are met and your branding is on point. They work with you over time to understand the heart and soul of your business. Your marketing team scripts and plans the video so it represents your business and meets your goals. They create a plan and strategy to market your video so people actually view it. Your print media is branded to your unique business the same way your website represents what you offer and everything works together seamlessly. Your social media works to drive traffic back to your website where visitors can learn more, sign up for a newsletter, make a purchase, etc. They become goal and results oriented.
The magic happens when your team begins to understand your business so well they brainstorm about what can be done to make you even more successful. They think outside the box and do far more than what you ask of them – they begin to think like you – if you were cloned and had several brains.
Another benefit of this relationship is that you can pick up the phone and call someone you already know is invested in making you successful. You have a relationship.
Again, the same process we spoke of in choosing a business partner works here. It’s essential that both you as the client and the team you contract with share the same business values and ethics. Having a similar work ethic really helps also. Does your team insist on working from 8-4 three days a week and your business is a 7 day per week venture? You may not be compatible. If your team gets as excited as you do over a new product you plan to launch or a success you’ve experienced, you’re on the right track.
We’ve found great satisfaction in developing long term relationships with clients with whom we share business values and work philosophy. Have we ever let a client go because they don’t share our high standards of customer service or ethics? Yes. And as difficult as it is to watch dollars go away, it turned out to be the best possible decision. One we can live with.
Are you ready to enjoy the benefits of a relationship? We’d love to hear about your business!
Take advantage of our complimentary analysis of your business, or just give us a call at 530-913-8473 or click here to send us a message. We’re here to listen and help you become more successful than you ever dreamed!
The quote at the beginning of this article by Vala Afshar is great advice. Respect, trust and truly caring about all of your relationships in business means you are light years ahead of your competition.