When we talked about growing our businesses and the power of collaboration at our December meeting, we got some great advice from our panelists and inspiration from those who attended. We had a stellar panel: Nichole Hatcher, Founding Member of Hatcher Legal, PLLC, Gloria Shealey, President and CEO, The Daniele Company and La-Tasha Best-Gaddy, small business counselor, SBTDC. Some key takeaways from the evening:
1) Pursue relationships, not projects: Gloria Shealey shared this nugget. Relationships are the cornerstone of success. Make sure you respect and want to work with people before trying to get the business.
2) Play the "Long Game"--Work on creating long-term value and relationships, instead of focusing on one-off projects. This also ties into number 3...
3) Don't undersell yourself--only lower your prices with the "Long-Game" in mind.. You may have to discount your prices in order to gain momentum and cash flow, but use your wins to build your reputation and brand. You can also lay a foundation for a long-term business relationship. One example given by a participant was that she lets the client know the discount was part of an ongoing package, rather than for a one-time project.
4) Ask For the Business. Don't be shy or coy. Be straightforward. Say, "I want to do business with you." or "I want to work with you."
5) Don’t back off your price, you might lose some business, but that’s fine. It means that those people aren't your target.
6) Hire for character: Yes, the person should have the skills to do the job, but the most important are those things that can't be trained: intellectual curiosity, work ethic and energy.
7) Carefully vet collaborative partners: If you're considering establishing a collaboration or partnership, observe how they do business. Do their values and practices align with yours? Do you actually like them and trust them?
9) Know your "Motivating Benefit" and purpose. Know why you do what you do. Be crystal clear and it will shine through t to your partners, your clients, your potential clients. It's the thing that will get you out of bed (or keep you awake late at night!) when you're tired. It's the thing that gives you the courage to ask for the business and the resilience to overcome setbacks. Ultimately, our panelists said, it's the thing that will help you grow your business.