We live in uncertain times. Those clichés such as ‘the only certainty is change’ are not only a reflection of the current political and economic climate, but also our changing world where technology and digitalisation is driving rapid change and disruption.
Many of the activities I do as part of my business now, are likely to have evolved or even become redundant in just a few years time. After all, running a social media workshop for business owners was unheard of 15 years ago, so I would be foolish to think that I may still be doing the same thing in 2032!
The ability to adapt and evolve – be flexible not rigid – is so important in business today: especially for small business owners.
I recently blogged about this on LinkedIn, and spoke to 3 business owners I have a huge amount of respect for about how to survive in uncertain times. Their advice, as always, was very insightful and one of the key takeaways for me was about understanding your customers, and building real relationships with them.
I would expand this to include not just your customers but also your overall business network of associates and suppliers. By deepening your network, building strong personal relationships, taking the time to understand each other, listen and help, we can pool together our resources so our businesses can adapt and survive.
How Deep Is Your Business Network?
Your business network may be really extensive; perhaps you attend many business events and have joined a range of groups and online communities. But how many of those connections are real relationships? If you needed help, who could you call on? Unfortunately, I think many of us have wide networks but our relationships are fairly superficial. These business relationships tend to be transactional, not collaborative or altruistic. If you need help there’s likely to be a cost associated with it.
Even when advice or support is freely given, there’s a limit to how useful that might be. Without really understanding someone – having a deep relationship, knowing what their values are, what motivates them and their business objectives – advice and support is always going to be fairly generic. Moreover, opportunities are missed, such as collaborative partnerships or innovative ideas that could help both your businesses succeed.
Without having deep relationships with a core group of people in my network, I know I would have missed opportunities to adapt my business so that it‘s in the best possible position to survive. Strong relationships with Business Hub members allow for candid and constructive feedback about the services I’m delivering and what they need from me. My relationships with my Hub franchise owners help me to adapt the business model so that they have a successful Business Hub, and also help me engage with prospective Hub owners. Deep relationships with other business owners facilitate a sharing of knowledge and experience that is helping me overcome challenges in my business and spot opportunities, and I hope that I’m also helping them too.
For any small business owner a deep network can give you an edge. Instead of being isolated and unable to access the resources and support you need to change and evolve, your network can help you succeed and at the same time you can help others succeed. This collective power is what could make all the difference to your business when external factors are impacting on others.
So my advice is to stop collecting business cards and connections on LinkedIn, and focus more on the relationships you already have. If you’ve got any suggestions or thoughts on this subject you would like to share with our business community, please leave a comment below.