I’ve been thinking a lot about what it means to build a successful business. Apparently, I’m not alone. Conduct a search on Google or peruse the shelves at your local library or bookstore, and you’ll find countless articles, checklists, books, and videos on this topic. Many of these focus on establishing a strong foundation for your business.
For example, in Mission in a Bottle, Seth Goldman and Barry Nalebuff share their insights on how to build and scale a successful business. The founders of Honest Tea, which is now a $100 million enterprise, share this advice with their fellow entrepreneurs: it starts with identifying your real purpose and building something you believe in wholeheartedly. They appeal to each of us to dig deeper and build a business that is radically different, a business others will try to imitate. And they remind us to prepare for the setbacks, the missteps, and simple bad luck that strikes every entrepreneur at one time or another. Building a successful business requires you to take the long view. There are no shortcuts.
But how do you elevate a successful business to a thriving one?
A successful business is profitable. A thriving business is not only profitable but regenerative. It unlocks new levels of innovation, cultivates human potential, and achieves extraordinary results. A thriving business is steeped in Self-determination Theory, which focuses on the degree to which human behavior is self-motivated and self-determined. As described by organizational psychologist Dr. Benjamin Hardy in Who Not How: The Formula to Achieve Bigger Goals Through Accelerating Teamwork, we thrive in our work when it provides us with a sense of competence, autonomy and is rich in meaningful relationships. Relationships are vital, for we can’t do it alone.
According to Who Not How: instead of thinking of how to achieve something, if we identify a who to guide us through, we efficiently and effectively complete the goal. When I partner with my clients, we create strategic communications highlighting their products and services to convey a powerful message specifically to a well-defined audience. My clients achieve their goals by working with me, and in return, I contribute to the growth of their business. It is by contributing to the growth of my clients’ businesses that I achieve my goals as a graphic designer and business owner. It’s unbelievable what we can accomplish when we’re all working towards the same goal. This is what distinguishes a thriving business from a successful one.
How to nourish the three key relationships that help you build a thriving business
Strategic networking and targeted outreach campaigns allow you to connect and build relationships with prospective clients and referral partners. Let’s not leave out how you work with your employees or contractors who become a part of your team. These are the relationships you need to develop and nurture if you wish to build a thriving business. Here’s how you build each of those key relationships:
1. Be the solution your clients seek
Your clients have a problem, and they are in need of a solution. Depending on how long they have been struggling, they may have tried a few solutions already. Perhaps they tried to solve the problem themselves. Or perhaps they hired someone to solve the problem and it didn’t work. Either way, they are probably frustrated and skeptical. To be the solution your clients seek, you have to take the time to get to know them, their company, their goals, and their challenges.
2. Be a resource for your referral partners
Your referral partners understand the challenges their clients are facing and often know who is in the best position to address those challenges. Their goal is to be a trusted advisor, someone who can help their clients solve the problems they encounter. To be a resource for your referral partners, give them the tools they need to be a hero to their clients.
3. Be the conduit for your team to achieve their goals
Your team includes employees and independent contractors. They want to spend their time doing their best work. They want to feel valued and competent and be granted the autonomy they need to get their work done. To be the conduit for your team to reach their goals, you have to relinquish control over how things get done. In so doing, you will not only help your team achieve their goals, but they will help you surpass your goals.
The best relationships give and take.
In a healthy relationship, both parties give and receive support. That’s just as true in business as it is in our personal lives. As you seek out and build your relationships, keep in mind that you are not only seeking their support to reach your goals but offering to help them reach their goals as well.
If you’re looking for help to build your thriving business, schedule a free 30-minute consultation today.