In my previous article, I pointed out how important it is to have vision. You have to see where it is you want to go with your business.
I’ve also discussed how essential it is to have stamina. If you aren’t prepared for the difficult times, you won’t be able to keep a business afloat.
Now we get to the nitty gritty.
This is where I share what I believe is the most important key to your success.
I see some hands going up. It’s okay. Just shout out your answer. No really… go ahead. (Besides, if someone else is in the room you’ll confuse them… that would be fun!)
Ok, someone said “money.”
Money is important. But many businesses have started with nothing and achieved great success. Personally, I’ve never gone in debt to finance a business. If I don’t have the money to do it, I’ll do something else that costs less. (I’ve nothing against raising capital…. I just don’t want to do it.)
I heard someone else say “take action!”
Taking action is very important. Nothing happens unless you do something. Whether it’s writing copy, hiring a consultant, designing a logo or hanging a shingle, action is most certainly a requirement for your business success.
But action in and of itself is not always productive. In fact, I can’t count the number of times I took action that was counter-productive. So while taking action is important, it’s not the answer I’m looking for.
There’s a guy in the back of the room who is jumping up and down waving his arm. He reminds me of Arnold Horshack from Welcome Back, Kotter. “Ooh ooh! Mr. Kotter! Pick me!” (I’ve really dated myself now, haven’t I?)
Yes, what’s your answer?
“A great product or service!”
Absolutely. If we aren’t selling a great product or service, I wonder why bother at all.
And yet, there are plenty of sub-par products and services which have become very successful due to fantastic branding and mindshare.
Oh, so branding is the answer?
Nope. Branding is very important. But it’s just a piece of the bigger puzzle.
Well, many of you may have guessed just based on the photo that appears with this piece.
See those people?
They are the answer.
Whether or not it’s those specific people I am referring to, I’m speaking in a broader sense.
And there are two reasons that PEOPLE are the most important key to your success:
1) You are NOT in the business of selling a product or service
I just saw some of you do a double-take.
Let me say it again.
You are NOT in the business of selling a product or service.
You are in the business of SERVING PEOPLE with the value that your product or service delivers.
Without people whose problems are solved with your product or service, you have no business.
None. Zip. Zilch. Zero. Nada. Donut. Bupkis.
When you put your attention on the people you are serving and how their lives will be enriched by giving you their money, your priorities are in the right place.
2) Relationships are EVERYTHING
The axiom “it’s not what you know, it’s WHO you know” still reigns true.
Your business can offer a great product or service with fantastic branding. You could have venture capital coming out your ears. You may be the greatest action-taker since Batman.
But with few exceptions and outliers, the relationships you have with others will determine how successful you are in your business.
I’m not talking about “using” people to build your business. Fair exchange of value is important in the transactions you negotiate.
I’m talking about treating your vendors, your employees, your contractors, your associates and your customers as human beings. Because surprise, surprise… that’s what we all are.
Human beings with hopes, dreams, wishes and desires paired with our own share of failure, fear, guilt and loss.
It’s why I believe that even though people can be radically different in their political or religious views, there is more that makes us alike than that which separates us.
And it is when we connect with other people AS real people that the magic happens.
That person that you met at the networking event eight years ago may wander back into your life as a key supplier.
The guy you bumped into at the coffee shop could become a great customer.
The woman sitting next to you on your next flight might be the buyer for a big department store.
The person you judged because of their shorts and t-shirt could be the CEO of the next Silicon Valley Cinderella story. And the time you spent freely sharing your expertise and knowledge with them might land you a first class ticket to their office for a high-dollar consulting gig one day.
It’s all about people. It’s all about relationships.
Have I made my point clear? How will that affect what you do and how you do it?
I’ve got more to say on this topic.
When I look back on my past successes there is a common theme.
In my next article, I’m going to share that theme with you. I think you’ll be able to apply it to your life.
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Of course, I’d love to hear your comments in the space below.
P.S. – I’m proud to call all the people in the photo my friends. They are left to right, Michael Stelzer, Brian Solis, Amy Schmittauer and Vincenzo Landino. This was taken at last year’s Social Media Marketing World in San Diego.
P.P.S – At the beginning of this article I said “Let’s see what I say…” – That’s actually completely true. When I sit down to share with you, I usually don’t know what is going to come out. I let it flow. Hopefully it flowed in a direction that was helpful!