As a business owner, I am a natural giver. I am a big believer in the art ofpaying it forward and giving to others. It is one of the great joys of building your own business: being able to provide respected customers with advice, value adds such as extra time, additional services, or offering introductions and referrals without expecting payment or issuing an invoice.
Another joy of being a business owner, is the ability to give back to the special people in your network, your professional and personal generosity can make a dramatic impact on their business and move their ideas forward.
There is equal, if not exponentially more joy in providing those you work alongside – your staff – with the ability to take a good look in the mirror and to help them find the true value of themselves and realise their potential. That could be the motivation to move to a new city, change careers, achieve work-life balance, kudos, reputation, strive for ever higher standards or just get a foot in the door. I find it extremely rewarding when I am able to create environments where my team can grow and experience things that extend their worth.
We all know people that we want to do business with and this is usually down to finding those who have aligned core values and similar belief systems. For me after 21 years in business – this is key. Finding good people to do business with and work alongside, creates good teams where you can work with people you like, trust and respect. Business is hard enough without having to suffer individuals who are a pain!
Business is tough, so while you are out fighting the good fight each day, it’s those special people in our personal and professional network that makes it all worthwhile. We gravitate towards them because we know they are ‘good people’ – wise and experienced AND have our best interests at heart.
It took some time, but I now have a sound understanding of the intangible value of client, supplier and colleague relationships. When you know people for a long time, goods and services are exchanged in a variety of ways equally and fairly based out of mutual trust and respect. I am acutely aware that business is not just about the money. When my business reaches new heights of success, I’ll make an extra effort to pay it forward, be generous with my time and supportive of those around me.
However, it can of course go wrong. When that equal exchange becomes unequal and when those on the receiving end of your goodwill, start to take advantage, you can end up feeling undervalued and used as an employer or a team member or a supplier. This is when careers, jobs, and customer or supplier relationships fall apart.
There are those out there who will engage in your day, your career and your business and do nothing it seems but take, take, take. Identify and expel those individuals quickly as they are no good for you or your team and they will rarely change. They do not have your interests at heart so be firm and terminate the arrangements cleanly. Get them away from your business and career orbit! But remember how you exit a relationship is as important as how you start it.
After over two decades of running a business, I can testify that the key to longevity and success is working with good people (clients, staff, suppliers, peers) who share my core values. Once you start prioritising people over profit you will see a measurable uplift in not just your business, but in life.