Here at HerBusiness, we’ve been investigating what makes the IDEAL business and how you can achieve yours today.
We’ve been digging into our Businesswomen’s Hall of Fame to find those answers.
In the last article in this series, we took the advice of 15 of our Hall of Fame women and developed the first idea you need to know to achieve your ideal business: Your IDEAL Business Starts With You.
But the Hall of Famers have more than just one strategy to share, and we’re going to go over the second strategy today.
Can you guess it?
Your ideal business needs PEOPLE. People are strategy #2.
You can’t run a business in a vacuum. You need team members, mentors, advisors, and clients. Business is all about relationships, and your relationships can grow to define your success.
But as usual, don’t take it from us. Take it from the outstanding women we’ve recognised in our Hall of Fame. These women built their ideal business, and they didn’t do it alone.
The first thing you have to understand is that no matter how much you’ve perfected yourself as a strategy, your business is going to involve a lot of people besides you, and the relationships you have with those people is paramount.
As Annie Crawford of Can Too said, those relationships are a defining factor of business.
“Understand that business is about people and human relationships – look after people and success follows.” – Annie Crawford, 2013
Those relationships should be a positive force your business. It’s important to be discerning in whom you form relationships with because, according to Stephanie Alexander of the Kitchen Garden Foundation, those choices will affect your business’ culture and success.
“Only do business with suppliers or service providers that you like as people. Protect yourself and your team from those who are always negative. Such individuals can undermine and destroy confidence easily.” – Stephanie Alexander, 2016
Once you’ve made sure relationships are a priority and you’ve chosen whom to form relationships with, those relationships are something to be nurtured and kept. Chris Cameron of Rockcote summed this up best.
“Don’t ever burn bridges.” – Chris Cameron, 2013
Build a Team
One of the first things you’ll do when your hobby becomes a business is choose the team you’re going to take along with you. This team is going to be vital; you’ll work around them every day and rely on them to make your business ideal. (If you remember from Article #2, a great team is one of the common qualities in every ideal business.)
According to Jane Cay of Birdsnest, the team is where everything starts.
“Start by surrounding yourself with the right people, who share the dream and compliment your skills. It is even better if they are smarter than you!” – Jane Cay, 2013
Once you’ve built this team, you have to keep striving. The team is never perfect, and, as Viv White of Big Picture Education advised, you should always be on the lookout for who can make your team more ideal.
“Always think about who else should be at the table.” – Viv White, 2014
As Audette Exel of the Adara Group expressed, you simply won’t make it by yourself.
“Don’t imagine for a second that you can do this alone.” – Audette Exel, 2015
Find a Mentor
Your team will be there to help you build your business, but you need someone to look to while you’re building. A mentor is absolutely essential. You won’t find a woman in the Hall of Fame without one.
As Kym Clark of She’s Empowered said, mentors are people to learn from.
“Learn from people with ‘been there, done that’ experience.” – Kym Clark, 2016
You need to be seeking out not only mentors, but people who support your business in a way that can open up doors for you. Mary Retallack of Retallack Vitaculture stressed the need for both.
“Find both mentors who can challenge you in a safe environment and sponsors who can help to open doors to opportunities for advancement.” – Mary Retallack, 2017
For women specifically, the search for a mentor might not happen organically. It might be something you have to intentionally seek out, as Jodie Fox of Shoes of Prey explained.
“A mentor is crucial for businesswomen! We see very few women in executive roles in larger organisations, so we naturally have less access to mentors in our friendship groups than men do. This is why it’s so important for businesswomen to look for mentorship in a more structured way.” – Jodie Fox, 2017
Look to Others for Help
Your mentor won’t be the only person you look to for help. It will happen naturally that there will be some areas of your business where you are the expert and some areas where you need help. Knowing those areas is important.
As Lisa McGuigan of Lisa McGuigan Wines advised, acknowledging where you need help is a vital first step.
“Be confident enough in yourself to know that other people have more knowledge than you in certain areas.” – Lisa McGuigan, 2014
Once you’ve identified your weak areas, you can seek out help from others. Kim-Louise Liddell of Non Destructive Excavation Australia recommended surrounding yourself with it.
“Surround yourself with experts in the areas where you need a boost.” – Kim-Louise Liddell, 2017
Leanne Preston of Wild Child WA would encourage you to make this formal, so as your business grows you have expert support anywhere you might need it.
“Set up a board of directors who have expertise in the areas you need, such as corporate governance, law, finance, science and marketing.” – Leanne Preston, 2017
Think of the Customer
The people within your life and your business are important, but you can’t forget the people your business serves! Your relationship with your clients is one you need to nurture constantly.
You have to know your clients in order to make your business a success. Jane Lu of Showpo stressed the importance of this.
“Know who your customers are and what they want. There’s no point selling something if you have no idea what your target market thinks, wants and loves.” – Jane Lu, 2017
One of the best ways to maintain a positive client relationship is to make sure your customers can give you feedback. There’s no relationship without communication, as Janine Allis of Retail Zoo knows.
“Give customers an avenue to speak to you.” – Janine Allis, 2013
And when your customers are speaking, you have to listen. As Anneke van den Broek of Rufus & Coco said, this is the final piece.
“Listen to your customers. They are the heartbeat of your business, and they will tell you what’s working and what’s not.” – Anneke van den Broek, 2016
Treat People Right
Once you’ve cultivated all these relationships with your team, your mentors and advisors and your customers, the last thing you have to do is make sure you are always treating people well. No success is worth forsaking the relationships that make up the backbone of your business.
The best way to do this, according to Chandra Clements of One Legacy, is to remember that the people helping your business are not just a business strategy.
“Don’t forget that your teams are made up of lots of personal people. Treat them like people, never as property.” – Chandra Clements, 2014
The greatest service you can do your business is to make these personal people your priority. As Maxine Horne of Vita Group advised, this will ensure that your people make your business ideal.
“Put people first. If you look after your team members’ well-being and work hard to create a great place to work, they will reciprocate by delivering a great atmosphere for customers who will want to keep coming back.” – Maxine Horne, 2016
Once you have great people in place who are making your business a success, remember to say thanks. This was one of Christine Taylor of Aussie Pooch Mobile’s main strategies for success.
“Reward and thank those around you. Make sure you take the time to say ‘thank you,’ and let them know how much you appreciate what they do.” – Christine Taylor, 2016
Never forget that your business is built on relationships. You need a great team, mentors, advisors and healthy customer relationships. Once you have all your people in place, remember to treat them well. PEOPLE are vital to making your business ideal.
In the next article, we’ll go over the third strategy: VISION.
Reach More People, Clarify Your Message and Finally Feel More Focused and Ready for Growth in YOUR Business
This post was authored by Sophie Grosserode. Sophie completed a journalism internship with HerBusiness. She studies journalism and media at the University of Tennessee in the United States.