When I look at small businesses in general, I see owners that are very skilled, continuously getting better at their craft and working day and night. Why? Because that is what is required if you want to make it. I have to work day and night. Right!?!
Then why do I get up at 3am, work 16 hours a day and don’t really see much growth in my business?
I believe it’s because small business owners are too busy working and not busy building.
This might be due to a lack of resources. Not enough money, not enough employees, not enough time. I know that’s what small businesses continuously have to deal with. Constraints wherever you look.
What’s worse is that the longer you go on like this, the less of a people person you become. You start pushing your family away (wasn’t this a big reason for even starting the business? ‘More freedom to be able to watch my kids play sport’?). You start scolding your staff because they cannot do the work right or quick enough (don’t you need to train and motivate them so that they can do the work and you can focus on bigger and better things?). Ultimately you even start fighting with your customers (didn’t I pray very hard to get these customers to even say yes to me?).
You see, after a while of working for the business, instead of building the business, life starts getting quite unpleasant.
So, what do you mean Phillip? What’s the difference between working for the business and building the business?
I’ll tell you!
We all know the saying that 80% of business is relationships. That’s a great statement, but what does it mean? How do I do it?
Building relationships is building your business. If you focus on the following relationships, you will win:
- Build relationships with customers
a. When it comes to existing customers, there are two words: ‘Be there!’. If you are there when they need you, you get the business. If your competitors are there, they get the business. Sometimes being there means a cup of coffee where they tell you about their personal dreams or problems. Just be there. Become a friend. It goes without saying that you need to deliver a great service and do it with a smile.
b. When it comes to new customers, there are two words: ‘Be there!’ If you are not visible to potential customers you have no chance. Make sure that you are at the trade shows for your industry and that you become an exhibitor at the shows. Make sure you have a visible presence on the web and social media. Respond to tenders. Start a call centre, get lists of leads and start calling people. A friend told me that he sees his telephone as a cash register and he makes sure that he constantly cashes up. Send out SMS’s. Make sure people know about you. Don’t be a secret agent.
- Build relationships with new and existing suppliers
a. If the big opportunity comes, you need to be ready for it. The only way to make sure that you are is if you build relationships with suppliers that can support you when the big deals come.
b. The beauty of this is that you don’t pay a monthly salary to these suppliers when you don’t have the business yet.
- Build relationships with staff
a. As your business grows and you appoint staff, it is so important that you train your people to increase their capacity. It’s well known that some people can produce 10 times more than others. That is largely due to training. I’ve realized that’s also the best way to build relationships with staff because you are contributing to their lives while also increasing the capacity of the business.
- Build relationships with existing or potential investors
a. It’s hard or, shall I say impossible, to build a great business by yourself. Always be an evangelist of your business. Always talk about your dreams, visions, plans. Get to people that understand your industry. Very often I’ve seen successful investments made by customers of or suppliers to the business.
Finally, I suggest that you make a list of people you know, classify them into one or more of the four groups. Then decide on your communication strategy with these people. Who do you need to call/meet once a week, once a month, once a quarter?
Once you have set this up, make sure you stick to it. You will find that it does not actually take that much time, but it does take discipline to build the business and not work the business.
Our product PICS can help you to implement this strategy within less than one week.
Connect with our team at www.ics.co.za