Think for a moment about all of the people, both inside your business and outside it, who can influence the success of your business. This list of people includes employees, investors, customers, creditors, suppliers, vendors and even your own family.
As I’ll explain, taking care of their needs can have a positive impact on your business.
1. Develop your Workforce and Give them Incentives
A business can only grow insofar as the people within it also grow. And I’m not just talking about increasing the number of employees you have. Rather, I’m talking about putting current employees in a position to make greater contributions.
Having an engaged and motivated workforce will help you take care of your customers. You’ll also complete tasks faster, better, and more efficiently.
There’s only one way to accomplish these things: if the needs of your employees and the needs of your business overlap. In other words, if the business will benefit from an employee’s extra effort, development of a new skill, etc., ideally, the employee should also benefit.
I realize you can’t reward employees for every good deed or every extra effort; however, come up with ways to tie more compensation to results. And don’t necessarily wait until annual bonuses to do it.
For example, let’s say you take on a project for a client. You estimate the total completion time to be six weeks. If your workers could finish it in five weeks, what would that be worth to you in dollars and cents? Consider taking some of what you financially gain by finishing early and sharing it with your employees.
For employees that express interest in learning additional skills or obtaining useful certifications, consider helping them pay for the courses and educational materials that will help them get there. Not only will your business benefit from the extra skills, you’re also giving these employees a reason to stay at your business longer.
Nobody wants to stay at a job that feels like a dead end. And we all know how much it hurts when a highly qualified and dependable employee leaves to take a job elsewhere.
Again, by making the business’s needs overlap with those of employees, both sides ultimately win.
2. Take Care of your Customers
The best salespeople you could possibly have are your own customers. If customers become raving fans of your business, they will spread the word and let their friends and family know.
In the words of Warren Buffett, “Delight your customer.”
To delight customers, always exceed their expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver whenever possible.
As I illustrate in the picture above, taking care of your customers will, in turn, mean your customers will take care of your business.
3. Attend to the Needs of Investors and Creditors
Maintaining positive relationships with investors is a must. Almost every situation involving an investor is unique. The particular rights of investors vary, as do the personal dynamics between investors and owners.
Some investors are very involved in a business and even want to help call the shots on important decisions. Meanwhile, others are hands-off and leave the decision-making to you. They just want to see a return on investment and will be interested in things like your profitability and return on assets.
No matter the circumstances, it’s important to stay on your investors’ good side to the extent possible. You don’t want to create unnecessary conflict or have them close their wallets when you’re relying on their contributions.
Having a strong relationship with your banker can also go a long way. Some things are non-negotiable, of course, no matter how strong the relationship. For example, bankers will want to see that you are managing risks and timely making payments on loans.
But if you experience a problem at your business, a banker might be able to give you some much-needed breathing room in the short term to deal with it. Don’t wait until bad times to start strengthening your relationship. Start now while times are good. Call the person from time to time, drop in to say hi, or take him/her to lunch.
If you need to lean on the relationship one day, you’ll be in a much better position to do so. And as your credit worthiness improves, a banker who’s in your corner can help you get better interest rates.
4. Treat your Suppliers and Vendors like Partners
Taking care of your suppliers and vendors can also bring a lot of benefits. When you grow your business, they also have the chance to grow theirs. That’s why it’s in your mutual interest to develop a partnership where both sides win.
If you’re always engaging in combative negotiations to get rock-bottom prices, you’ll likely pay a higher price in the long run. That’s because vendors and suppliers will dread working with you and will invest their time developing relationships with other businesses. You’ll be the last to hear about good deals or other beneficial things that arise from time to time.
5. Take Care of your Family
Last but not least, it’s critical to take care of your own family. For your business to succeed, your spouse and other family members will need to be supportive of the time, money, and effort you’re putting into your business.
Without strong emotional support from your family, you’ll be incapable of putting your best foot forward. Strained relationships can pull you away from your business and occupy your attention.
Be sure to recognize the contributions and sacrifices that your spouse and other family members make for you to succeed at work. Invest in strengthening these relationships, and as a result, it will be easier to give your business your full and undivided attention.
How successful you are in business is, in large part, a measure of how successful you are in your relationships with people. These people include your own employees, customers, vendors and suppliers, bankers, and your own family.
Recognize the importance of these people and do whatever you can to strengthen your relationships with them. Remember, you reap what you sow. Invest in these relationships and your business will benefit as a result.