Who do you like working with – come on, be honest?
You see, I think this question is just as important as figuring out your market, the problems and challenges to be solved and how you can package up products and solutions that will do this. I say this, because I believe at the end of the day it is all about relationships.
Relationships with your customers, relationships with your employees, relationships with your suppliers and relationships with yourself.
Of course I have had demanding customers, but I still enjoyed being around them, there was a lot to learn and I think they also learned something from me. However, I have also been around customers that despite their business, frankly I did not enjoy being with. I am not sure if it was lack of chemistry, or simply their views were in contradiction to mine. Either way, I just did not get along with them.
I remember some time back, I was meeting with a client who was a senior executive at a global bank. He was demanding, but not with the intent to establish a win win relationship. It was only several months later that I discovered through the local press, this same executive, had been caught acting corruptly by receiving bribes from other suppliers.
Today, I go out of my way to share with my customers and future ones, about what I stand for, what I believe in and how I think I can help them. Sometimes this transparency is over indulgent, but it is also appreciated.
I also want to get to know who they are, what drives them, their aspirations from our partnership. By doing this we are much more better positioned to build a great relationship that is mutually beneficial, or realise early that this will not be worthwhile endeavour for either or both of us.
Now this can be a challenge when you are starting a business and are in the startup phase. After all, I can hear you say what about cash flow? Of course you need to be commercial, but I also believe you need to be authentic from day onset as well – one of integrity, as this is the greatest investment in your business and it will live beyond you.
When you raise your personal standards way higher than anyone would expect of you, a strange thing starts to happen. You actually start to attract the type of people who have similar values which is also reflected in their business and relationships.
As a young boy I heard the phrase “good things happen to good people”- well I think it is true!