Building Business Relationships
A big part of business ownership is building relationships. That means connecting with people you already know, those who are or have been in the same field as you, even those who are unwitting business owners. There are only two ways to grow your business anyway, either by gaining more clients than you lose (for whatever reason) or by buying out your competition. Even if you buy, you will still have to retain the client roster your just purchased or you will lose money. Successful relationships are the only way to ensure a greater customer loyalty when everything else is comparable between you and businesses like you.
So I know none of this is new information really for anyone who’s had their shingle hung for more than an hour. There is however, a bit more to the nuance of what a successful business relationship looks like than you might think. Let’s face it, the reason the relationship exists is for at least one of you to make money and the other to realize a benefit worthy of payment.
Being in the accounting business, we offer essentially the same package of “product” for our clients as any other firm would. The ability to convert that package into meaningful business planning, insight, strategy, and savings is another story and most likely is a reflection of both our expertise and the wants of the client. It is our ability to strike that balance exactly the way our clients perceive it that makes the difference between a business who stays for a standard 2 – 3 years and one who stays for the life of this business and future ventures. And there you have the nature of the successful business relationship defined – we make money because they get more for in return than just a stack of papers.
Your business may be different in terms of what products or services you offer but the essentials, the things that make all small business stable and growing over the long haul, are the same no matter what. You may know your product well. You may know your core clients well. The question for you is how quickly can you know a potential client well enough to turn them into long term customers as well? If your strategy is all about you, your business, and how great you are you may have a steeper hill to climb every time you engage that potential client.
I used to own a housecleaning business – talk about personal and up close! The whole business is based on relationship – they have to trust you, your products, your employees, and your methods and tools. It was my experience that if I didn’t convert their communication into meaningful action on my part, no matter how vague that communication was, I was not going to keep them as a client past the first 12 months at best. How much more important is accounting and tax work than housecleaning?
Think of it this way, if what I have to say here has value and we have no business relationship at all how much more value can we add to your business if we spend a little time together? I really am looking forward to speaking with you in the very near future when you’re ready to start building your business and your relationships. Until then, the best of luck and prosperity in all your personal and business ventures.