Business Is Built on Relationships
I had lunch with an old friend and fellow entrepreneur. Outgoing, fun, energetic, involved and positive are ways in which I would describe her. She founded her own franchise business about a year before I launched Mary Williams FIA. She is a few months ahead of me on the learning curve as she survived and yes, thrived in her first year!
We met through Leadership Tampa Bay back in 2015. She remains involved with the organization as a Board Member and Committee Chair. You would expect this from a fun, outgoing, smart, energetic, positive and committed woman.
It was so great to connect with her. We were comparing our former corporate lives to our current entrepreneurial lives. What is the same and what is different? Well, for starters, not much is the same except our willingness to work hard. We’ve moved on from regular paychecks, bonuses and commission checks, to collecting money to support our businesses with the goal of having revenue outperform the expenses. What was most interesting for both of us was to discover we worry less about money now than we did when more of it was coming in on a regular basis. We looked at each other and at the same time kind of smiled and nodded and said,
“Why do you think that is?”
Over a lunch of comfort food and laughs, we decided that we felt more in control of our own destiny. We were able to clearly articulate we both find great satisfaction in driving our own work and our own businesses. She has 5 employees; I am a business of one. We commiserated over what it means to manage people and work as a team to drive results. She shared the challenges with identifying and on-boarding great people. We discussed the cost of turnover, especially on a small business. I miss being part of a team and, in turn, love to collaborate with likeminded people every chance I can. Today’s lunch was a refreshing addition to my day.
What do you learn from running your own business?
When asked this, she explained that what she thought would be true about becoming an entrepreneur, is. She is the salesperson, the visionary and the technician. She trains all her own people. She rolls her sleeves up and takes clients too. And she noted when clients learn she is the owner of the company, they are more respectful to her as she performs her work.
She agreed that soft skills are important and the lack of them is prevalent. She shared openly that managing people and growing fast are her biggest challenges. Her first-year sales exceeded the goal. She talked about one of her best team members not being punctual, and constantly working with this individual to improve his timeliness on the job. She balances her appreciation for his weakness because his strength is so valuable to her company. He does whatever it takes to get the job done.
I shared one of the biggest challenges I face is working from a home office. I routinely find ways to allow myself to be distracted from focusing strictly on my work. I do dishes, laundry, wash floors, feed and snuggle with my dogs, anything some days to avoid getting at it. I am consistently reminding myself to be disciplined and focused, and the housework can wait until later.
I was struck by the obvious on my drive home from lunch. Everything in business and life comes down to relationships. If your clients and business associates are comfortable with you, if they have confidence in you, they trust you. And trust is at the core of every relationship. Trust is central to maintaining friendships and client relationships. I remember when I first read Stephen M. R. Covey’s book, The Speed of Trust where he states, “nothing is as fast as the speed of trust.” It’s one of my favorite quotes. Trust can be built, and trust can be destroyed. We can all recite instances of this in our work, in politics and sports, to name a few.
Since relationships and trust are on my mind today, I share the following points with you regarding the importance of maintaining trust to broaden and deepen your relationships:
- Be on time both in person and on the phone
- Return calls promptly
- Honor deadlines
- Listen more than you talk
- Deliver work for the price you quoted for the job
- Follow through on promises
Thank you to my friend and fellow entrepreneur Cole Robinson, owner of Fish Window Cleaning in Tampa. It was wonderful catching up! I so appreciate all the insights you so open and honestly shared.