By Robert Allen
Let’s face it: being an entrepreneur is tough.
Every day you wake up, it’s a constant grind to get your products, services, and ideas in front of the right people.
There are no shortcuts, and there are a million-and-one different things vying for your attention at any given time.
Because of this, it’s really difficult to know where to focus your energy and effort.
- Should spend more time on consumer research and product development?
- Should you polish up your sales pitch?
- Should you start a Facebook page, an Instagram, a Twitter?
- Should you buy Google Ads?
- Should you outsource your marketing to an agency?
Pages upon pages could be filled with things you “should” or “could” do for your business. And it’s a constant balancing act, between taking on new projects and executing to perfection on the old ones.
However, if you truly want to be successful as an entrepreneur and business owner, there’s one thing you MUST do that trumps all else.
And that is to invest in your relationships and your ability to communicate and connect with other people.
Because at the end of the day, it’s the clients you’ve connected to, the employees you’ve hired, the suppliers that depend on you, and the friends you’ve made that REALLY matter.
Beyond money, success, fame, or any “things” you might own, it’s the individuals you surround yourself with that are truly important.
But so often, us entrepreneurial types forget to spend time on this.
As we pursue our passions, we develop tunnel vision for achieving our businesses’ goals. And in the process, we neglect to spend time with the people most important to us.
Here’s the truth: Businesses don’t exist in a vacuum; they thrive because they solve problems for people.
So if you want to start a business, grow you company, or turn your operations around, you need to remember that the foundation of business is relationships and people.
Instead of just drawing attention to this potential problem, I wanted to give you three simple solutions that virtually guarantees every person you meet knows you care about them, you will help them achieve their goals, and you are a person they can trust.
1. Listen up
Billionaire business mogul, Richard Branson, says:
“If you want to stand out as a leader, a good place to begin is by listening.”
Listening is a skill that many people skip right over. In the midst of our busy lives, it’s really difficult to always be present and listen to other people.
But listening is an all-powerful skill.
Not only is it a great way to show how much you care about others, but also every time you listen to other people is a great learning opportunity.
By taking time out your day to listen to others, you also uncover opportunities to help people.
And as an entrepreneur that should be your sole focus in life: helping people solve problems. Because when you do that, you acquire customers, referrals and employees for life.
People are an organization’s greatest asset. If you invest a few minutes each day into hearing what those people have to say, your business will see huge returns.
2. Show genuine interest
“It’s your unlimited power to care and love that makes the biggest difference in your life.” - Tony Robbins
And showing just how much you care about someone begins with truly taking interest in their lives.
As an entrepreneur you undoubtedly have people that look up to you. Showing them that you’re willing to slow down, ask thoughtful questions, and be curious about what they have to say, speaks volumes about your character.
When you do that for others on a consistent basis, you’ll have an endless line of people willing to go the extra mile for you. That could be your employees, colleagues, spouses, children, family, or friends. Whatever the cases, when you take an interest in those around you, you build an army of raving fans who will help you if times get tough, be a source of inspiration if you get discouraged, and be a constant recommendation source to fuel your business’s growth.
3. Be accessible
“Being available and approachable is necessary for effective leadership.”
Says Tony Dungy, a Championed, National Football League coach.
People constantly make snap judgments about you and, by default, how you run your company. If you’re always closed off and rude when meeting new people or interacting with clients, that’s going to leave a lasting negative impression.
On the other hand, if you take the time to give a warm greeting, open yourself up, be nice and attentive, people’s impression of you and your business will skyrocket.
This is especially important when you’re talking to colleagues. If you smile, make eye contact and have a positive tone of voice, people will gravitate toward you and respect you.
As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to make a good first impression. So even if you’re on your way to a meeting or incredibly busy that day, never ignore others. Even if you just give them a few minutes of your time, those minutes generate huge returns in the long run for you and your business.
Remember as entrepreneurs, we aren’t acting in a bubble. The world is full of people, and those people have the potential to be our customers, employees, suppliers and friends.
Every person you meet represents a new opportunity to showcase not only what you stand for and care about, but also what principles guide your business day-to-day.
Don’t let relationships slip through the cracks. Continue to spend time nurturing the old, acquiring the new, and attracting the best people into your life. And nothing can stop you then!
Rob Allen is an elite communications and influence coach who runs the blog Kick Start Your Dream Life. He trains young professionals and entrepreneurs how to master their social skills, become influential, and instantly intrigue and impress anyone they meet — regardless of where they’re starting from!