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Stefan Kazakis on 7 October 2017

Last week we started our new theme for the month, leverage.  This week we continue to look at different ways to apply leverage to the people in your business.

Who you surround yourself with – both at work and away from work – is very important. The journey to business success can be long and winding, and the people in your inner circle need to be supporting you along the way. You must surround yourself with dream-makers, not dream-takers.

Your peers

You must remember that the commercial intelligence you need is already in the room, it’s in the collective group. There’s always somebody in your inner circle of influence who has the answer you are looking for. Maybe there is someone in the room who has made greater progress than you and your organisation, or who has a different perspective and can add weight to what you need to keep moving forward. My inner circle has contributed significantly to my current and ongoing success, and my success adds value to others in my inner circle.

There are two questions to be continuously asking those in your inner circle:

1. What’s been your greatest success, and how can I learn from that?

2. What’s been your greatest challenge, and how can I help?

You don’t need all the answers, you just need the right questions. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. You also have to bring your own intelligence and critical thinking. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking a question or two of our peers. It’s a very powerful form of leverage.

It is imperative that you strategically surround yourself with the right people. I have a list of business associates that I study regularly to see how they can help me grow my business. Maybe it’s somebody I could start a partnership with, or a client showing great potential for long-term growth.

Every month I sit down with this list and identify and rank the 10 people who can most help me grow my business that month. Most months, two or three names on the list change or move up or down, and there are a few names that have been on the list for a long time.

This is a great habit for you to get into. You won’t achieve success by yourself. So, why not strategically identify who you should be spending time with? Clearly identify the value these people provide to you and the outcomes they can help you with. How could you build a partnership with them? Who do they know who can help your business? What skills or knowledge do they have that you need? If you’re not sure about something, ask them! Don’t be shy. Turn it into a system. Like everything in your business, your approach to this needs to be systematic and quantifiable.

Here’s the key to the success of this strategy; you have to help others in return. People will notice very quickly if you’re trying to exploit them for your own gain. That’s not the way to grow a profitable business, and it’s also simply not a very nice thing to do. If you have an abundance mindset, you’ll know that there’s plenty of success to go around. If you get out there and find people who can help you in your business and you do the same in return, everybody wins. I’ve found over my many years of business that just about everybody is happy to help if I’m willing to return the favour when the time comes.

So, at the start of each month, ask yourself the following big questions:

• Who are the 10 most influential people in your life and how can they help you?

• Who are the 10 most influential people you have helped recently and how have they helped you?

There are people who are already doing business with people you wish to do business with. Find out who they are. Find out what people are buying one step before you and one step after you. You then have the opportunity to bridge that gap and make these people part of your inner circle. If you’re a portrait photographer, a logical step before you would be a hairdresser, as people spruce themselves up before the shoot, and a logical step after you would be a framer. Ask yourself what opportunities this gives you to build your business, perhaps by creating partnerships with these people.

Your inner circle can include people who are not in your organisation, such as: other people in your industry, your suppliers, people you are competing with, your accountant, your lawyer – really, anybody who can offer valuable insights into your industry and/or your business. The key advisers most people need to succeed in business are: an accountant, a legal representative, a financial planner, a business banker and, ultimately, a key strategist. These can be internal or external, and may change and evolve as your business grows. Think of this as your nonexecutive board.

Power to you this week.


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