Over the last few years we’ve really seen budgets tighten up. The layers of approval people need just to buy pens seems to be incredible. When you are starting out in business money is naturally tight. Speculate to accumulate they say but you can only speculate with what you’ve got. So when you are on your own trying to build a portfolio or a business where should you start with limited time and budget? How about your collaborators?
A couple of weeks ago I started talking about who your collaborators are. Collaborators can come from anywhere. They can be friends, acquaintances, family or just people you’ve met through business. There doesn’t necessarily need to be an emotional pre-established relationship.
As your career develops though you will meet like-minded people with whom you have much in common and perhaps your goals may well be aligned in many ways. Quite often as well you may be at similar stages in the growth of your businesses.
Marketing can be very expensive. Employing sales staff can be risky. However, with a good knowledge of your key collaborators you may not need to do either.
They say that a referral is six times more likely to turn into business than a cold call.
Look at your phone book. How many people present an opportunity to do business? What if you had access to three or four more phone books like that? Your collaborators will give you access to those people.
Over time the sales process has changed. Consumers are savvy and know when they are being sold to. They are much more interested in having their needs matched in a way that can add value to their business. By getting to know your collaborators well, by helping them to understand your business and you theirs you will open up the opportunities for new business.
How often do you see something or hear a comment and think “I will tell so and so about that.” You may do it subconsciously but if you have a great relationship with your collaborators it could be that these opportunities are most likely top of the mind.
Collaborators don’t necessarily need to be the people in your local networking group, they can be people who you see from time to time or regularly do business with. The important thing is that there is mutual respect and the relationship works two ways.
My top tip is to do an audit of all the people you regularly come into contact with and the business that you have so far. Who are the contacts? Who has sent you business before? This should start to give you an idea of just who is referring you and which collaborative relationships may help you along in future.
As a Business Coach in Lancashire and a small business owner, I understand that I need to work and collaborate with like minded people to be successful. If you want to find out more about how I help other businesses reach out and find their key collaborators, I would be happy to hear from you.