Love and Business Require Trust
What separates entrepreneurs from the ‘worker bee’ types who fill jobs, rather than creating them?
It isn’t financial savvy, technical skills, or even having a good idea for a product or company.
It is just risk-tolerance, a willingness to accept that great rewards (in this case, a successful enterprise) only come with great risks (failure, often at great financial cost).
When it comes to growing and developing a new business, that same key ingredient is still of utmost importance—yet somehow, many successful entrepreneurs forget that dealing with risk is important at every stage of building a business, not just the beginning.
Networking: Not Just for Employees
Businesses routinely fail to manage their relationships effectively. The same advice I see carelessly thrown at job-seekers—“Build relationships,” “Do more networking”—is ignored far too often by managers and business owners, as though after keeping their doors open for long enough, they suddenly feel like they have targets on their backs and can’t trust anyone.
A smart, forward-thinking business plan accounts for key junctures, and is open to the benefits of accepting outside help to continue growth. Maybe it makes more sense to hire an accountant each year than keep one on staff; maybe you use so much tech that you need someone on call to help troubleshoot, and provide security; maybe you plan on building a customer support department, but need came faster than capacity, and you need to make due; maybe you just can’t come up with the funds to finance any further development without help.
Building relationships—both within, and around a business—should be a priority for the life of a company, from conception-onward. It is as natural as any other aspect of building a business, like hiring, delegating, and planning.
Love and Business Require Trust
Think of it this way: dating is scary. Building trust with your partner starts by allowing yourself to be vulnerable, and giving your partner reasons to trust you back. But no relationship lasts long without at least meeting each other’s respective friends and family too. It is a natural progression for your relationship to follow. And the better you can get along with each other’s networks, the better chance your own relationship has of lasting.
Research from professor Hugh Sherman at Ohio University has demonstrated that one of the biggest roadblocks to growth in rural businesses is not location, as many might assume: it is a reluctance to seek out or accept help (whether in the form of advice, investment, or partnerships) from outside a limited community. The main reason for this apprehension? A lack of trust—and a lack of risk-tolerance.
Opening your business up to new relationships can involve anything from strategic partnerships, to private investors, to bringing on consultants. Nothing hampers your growth potential like shutting people out behind a wall of distrust.
Great People Inside and Out
When it comes to assembling your own team, it certainly pays to be selective, and take care in hiring individuals who will work well together and serve the company as a whole. But there is a difference between being cautious, and being dismissive. If you are too guarded in your hiring, you may have trouble finding enough people to staff your company.
Likewise, if you can’t find a balanced approach to building relationships with other businesses and professionals, your company may have trouble continuing to grow and develop.
All the emphasis we put on team-building, job-hunting, and hiring makes it seem like the most important relationships we can build are between employer and employee. The truth is, no business survives on employees alone, and leaders need to focus not just on who works for them, but finding people to work with them.
Having a certain tolerance for risk is one of the most important prerequisites for starting and managing a business. But it is important that in dealing with risk, you remember that building relationships outside your business (with contractors, competitors, adjacent industries, investors, and so many others) is equally important to your overall development.