When I was a kid, one of the most common phrases I heard was, “It’s not personal, it’s business!” Of course, like any kid, I soaked up that message in the media and movies, believing that somehow business relationships were vastly *different* than, and separate from, personal relationships. The message was that to be successful in growing a business, one must also be cold, ruthless, and uninvolved.
Then, I started my own businesses and realized that concept was way off the mark!
In every single business, what has brought the fastest and most sustainable success has been developing and nurturing *the relationships*. Relationships with new and existing clients. Relationships with potential clients. Relationships with vendors. Relationships with fellow service providers. Relationships with providers of complimentary services. Relationships with fellow associates and networkers.
Running and growing a successful business is pretty much ONE BIG relationship-fest, all of which is very personal!
Clients do not hire unless they feel you will deliver on your promises. Vendors do not support your business unless they feel you will deliver on your promises. Associates do not refer you to others unless they feel you will deliver on your promises.
Realize that you are also a client, a vendor and an associate to other business owners. Yes, healthy and successful business relationships are a two-way street.
When clients feel heard, treated with respect and appreciated, they want to do business with you. When vendors feel heard, treated with respect and appreciated, they want to do business with you. When associates feel heard, treated with respect and appreciated, they want to do business with you.
Is that really different from any other relationship? Don’t we all want to feel heard, treated with respect and appreciated?
Along the way, I’ve heard a lot of advice regarding business relationships. One of the most helpful was actually focused on human relationships in general, and I applied it to business: Jack Canfield said that it’s unrealistic to expect everyone to appreciate you. Holding that expectation sets us up for disappointment and resentment which poison our relationships with others.
However, he also said…
When you walk into any room: Approximately 25% of the people in the room will like you immediately before you even speak. Approximately 25% of the people in the room will dislike you immediately before you even speak. And, the remaining 50% of the people in the room could care less, either way.
Applying Jack’s point to business, I realized this: Give your attention and energy to the clients (potential, new and existing), vendors, and associates who naturally appreciate you and your services.
Stop trying to impress the unimpressable. Release the need-to-please the unpleasable. Let the unhappy ones go about finding those service providers with whom they naturally connect so they have a chance of being happier.
Set your intention to work with clients who appreciate and value your products and services. Let it be OK that it’s not 100% of the people and businesses on the planet. Trust me, with 25% of the businesses appreciating you, you will do very well! Plus, because you are happier, those 25% will hire you more and refer you more to like-minded business owners.
If you’ve got existing clients who never seem happy, who are always complaining, it’s time to have a talk with them. If you have had a happy client suddenly shift into an unhappy one, take the time to find out if it’s a temporary or permanent issue. If there is no way to fully support the client in a way that’s enjoyable for you, it’s OK to encourage them to find another resource. That’s my diplomatic way of saying fire the client. Someday, they’ll thank you!
Following this process of focusing only on the clients who truly appreciate you, and letting go of those who don’t, allows you to savor the happy relationships with clients, vendors, and associations while having more fun in your day-to-day business! Successful and happy business owners take the time to get to know and support their clients, vendors and fellow associates. They also appreciate clients, vendors, and associates who support them. Are you one of those clients, vendors and associates?
It’s your turn to share your stories and thoughts in the comments below. What is one step you can take today to focus on the clients who appreciate and value you?