As an entrepreneur, business relationships are an integral part of your professional success and it’s important to prioritize them. Building real and mutually beneficial business relationships requires consistent and dedicated work over time. In order to build a great community around your brand, you have to put others first and establish yourself as a listener and a helper. In this article, we’ll examine the relationships you need to nurture as a retail entrepreneur.
A good start can be to focus on the people that already exist around your brand—including social media, webinars and conferences, and organizations that are related to your business. Then expand it out to those that can help you reach your goals. Industry influencers and bloggers are a great group to focus on as they have already built engaged communities around them who trust their opinions.
The segment of your customer base who regularly buys from you could be the biggest asset your company has. Use your website, email messaging, and social media posts to engage customers and prospects while maintaining personal connections with that audience. These are great ways to demonstrate your honesty, integrity, and transparency—so be authentic in these communications.
For example, think of a restaurant that reinvented itself during the COVID-19 pandemic—their customers understand why curbside pickup or delivery are currently required. When the restaurant tells its audience that their safety is a top concern, they are helping to develop trust.
Your audience is more likely to trust your business when you make it clear that your top priority is their best interest. Do your best to have the right products in stock that meet their needs—and when you can’t, communicate openly about what isn’t working and why. It’s likely you’ll find that your human customers understand human problems; by maintaining transparency, you’re nurturing relationships.
For any business to succeed, stakeholders must be well taken care of. These aren’t just your customers. These stakeholders are also employees, vendors, bankers, and the overall community who have an interest in your business. When a stakeholder is not taken care of, the effects can be felt in various parts of the business—so involve them in your business; your success can depend on how enthusiastic your stakeholders are.
Offer to collaborate with your stakeholders. This can take many forms, from asking your employees for their opinions on how to improve your business to speaking at a local Chamber of Commerce meeting. Ask your stakeholders for advice. A very powerful question you can ask is, “How can we best serve you…?” Most of the time, you’ll get an answer that’s forward looking—and you’ll benefit when you’re able to fulfill the request. If you want to build lasting stakeholder relationships, do what you said you would do. Remember, trust is built through your integrity, your communication, and the respect you have for yourself and the other person.
You already have a network of stakeholders—so reach out to them to ask for as well as provide assistance. Doing so will benefit all parties, while giving everyone greater purpose and fulfillment.