Warning: This is a get-rich-slow plan. If you are looking to jumpstart your business in the next 30-90 days, you might not find what you are looking for here. But if you are looking to grow your business in a sustainable, fulfilling and profitable way … and you are willing to take the long-view … I’ve got some killer advice for you.
Grow your business by growing everyone you do business with. That’s it. A simple, yet hard to execute strategy for greening up the bottom line. You grow people best by sharing your intangibles: What you know, who you know and your ability to give encouragement and support.
I wrote about this as an author-pup in Love Is the Killer App, and it’s the core perspective behind my lecture circuit talk “Multiply The Value!“. Over the last dozen years, I’ve met countless people that have practiced this way of developing their business, and it’s no longer considered a naive way to think.
It Starts Inside: Grow the person sitting next to you or looking up to you. You can spot a mentee candidate, because he or she is in transition (usually going up) and is missing information that you possess. When your colleagues excel, give them honest and instant encouragement. In his fabulous book Primal Leadership, Dr. Daniel Goleman observes that when employees feel positive about their job, engagement and customer satisfaction levels grow. When you grow people, then, they likely pass it forward to the customer, and in turn, the love comes back to you.
Your Partners Needs Love Too: Your day to day business contacts, be they suppliers or vendors, need to grow too in order for your business to flourish. Are you lending them your network, along with your reputation? It’s the best marketing they can ever receive. Surprisingly, as they scale up, their service levels will actually increase because they have more resources than ever and a willingness to share them with you. I love speaking at partner conferences, like the one that Cisco puts on every year for their value-added resellers, because it’s a win/win for everyone involved. The Cisco Partners learn new tricks of the trade along with gaining strategic insight and Cisco develops closer relationships with their sales channel, which translates to invaluable insights and of course … loyalty.
CRM Is Dead, Long Live Customer Development: One of the most courageous things you can do is challenge, educate or inform you customers in order to improve their fitness for business. Too often, we worry this distracts them from what we are selling, but in fact, it gives us more access to them in the long run and generate endless referrals. It’s good to network customers to new opportunities as well. That’s how Elmer Letterman built his insurance business in the 30’s.
I believe we need to think more like farmers than butchers. Farmers plant seeds and nurture them to harvest. Too much grow-your-business thinking resembles the butcher business model: More meat delivered daily sold through to more customers walking through the front door. While products and marketing deliver numbers, sometimes working with what you’ve got … at a human level … will yield more in the long run.