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Types of Small Business Relationships

18 February 2019

No business is an island. By definition, a business involves ties and relationships with various elements, from suppliers to clients and everything in between. In our interconnected digital age, where everything is on the internet and everyone is on social media, you need to invest in building and maintaining relationships, whether it’s about brand loyalty, trusted suppliers or employees.

Any small business needs to build up several types of relationships:

Suppliers – to say that businesses depend on suppliers is a cliché, and of course, there’s more to it. You have to be able to trust your suppliers if you want your clients to trust you. In a manner of speaking, developing a good relationship with a supplier is similar to developing a customer base at the other business end. So focus on what they bring to the “partnership” rather than how much they cost.

Maintaining good relations with suppliers entails paying on time, interacting with them on a personal basis, keeping them in the loop, etc.

Employees – Take interest in your employees, listen to them. their loyalty will manifest itself in better productivity and creativity, and improved employee retention. Remember, your employees are the face of your business, therefore they can be a major asset; to keep them, show your appreciation. (hint: research shows that conversations with employees get better results than perks…)

Investors – Let’s face it: cash flow is a hugely important factor in your success. Most businesses need a loan to start, and sometimes need loans to expand. Applying for loans is not only about the forms; sometimes it is about who you are. Investors carry out a character evaluation when deciding on a loan or an investment. They want to know whether you will act responsibly (and productively) with the loan. Solid relationships can ensure your expansion possibilities.

Clients – Saving the best for last! You want your clients to be satisfied and loyal. None of the above-mentioned relationships will matter if you don’t have clients. In order to engage with the clients, you have to understand them, learn what matters to them, offer solutions to their problems, fulfill (and exceed) their expectations, respect them (react to comments, feedback and suggestions), etc. Research shows that clients will pay more when personalized experiences are involved, and the best way to get to know them is through the mobile applications they use.

Gen Z is a case in point: This is the “digital native” generation; they’re coming of age now and they have a significant buying power. They were born with a mobile device in hand, and for them, everything is a documented (and shared) social experience. They are wary of “market-speak’” and they value authenticity and transparency above many other trends. They’ll work with businesses who represent their core values. If you want to cultivate this audience, focus on marketing for values rather than features, price or design.

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