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Stefan Kazakis on 3 March 2018

When building relationships with suppliers you must ensure they are capable of handling your growth. If you’re building a publishing empire the little print shop down the road isn’t going to be able to grow with you. If you are building a chain of coffee shops that boutique coffee-maker who grinds the beans himself is not going to be able to keep up.

It’s also vital that you create win–win situations with your suppliers.

Unfortunately, from time to time I meet business owners who see their suppliers as a hassle and just think about the expense. They try to wring every last dollar out of a contract or deal. They try to get everything yesterday, and then the day before that.

This is not the path to productivity, and it’s certainly not the way to attract A-grade suppliers to your business. Yes, you should try to make agreements on terms favourable to you. Yes, you should push your suppliers to perform well. But you must also treat them like partners in your business – because they are.

You might think you have ‘won’ a deal if you forced a supplier to knock off another $2,000 by threatening to go elsewhere, but what does this do to your relationship in the future?

What message are you sending this supplier about their value to your business? A-grade suppliers – rightfully – won’t accept this treatment. We all know business is business, but know where to draw the line and focus on building healthy relationships with your suppliers, rather than trying to extract every last ounce from them.

You can also build relationships by sharing clients in your industry.

Relationships are a critical success factor in every business. Introductions, referrals, contacts and effective relationships need to be built to ensure a solid reputation for you and your business.

Your reputation communicates who you are and the value you create in your market place, both of which are important for the continual growth of your circle of influence (COI). You need to be constantly building your co-opetition relationships - these are relationships for which you have common clients as your focus.

Ask yourself what opportunities this gives you to build your business, perhaps by creating partnerships or ongoing relationships with these people.

These relationships must be relevant to your bigger picture. They must be leverage points to take you to the next growth stage, rather than just having coffee with somebody who is a colleague or somebody you wanted to meet but who is not necessarily aligned with your business and what you’re doing. It must all fit with your strategy.

We’ve all heard the saying, and it’s true: it’s not what you know, it’s who you know.

Make sure all of your relationships will help with future growth. Productivity is about taking the right people with you on the journey. Whether it’s your team or your suppliers, it will be a huge drag on your growth if you are continually turning people over. That wastes a lot of time and productivity. So, get the right people in at the beginning.

But then remember that after you’ve found them you also have to make the effort to keep them. A-grade people won’t hang around if they realise they are working with a B-grade business.

So, build mutually beneficial relationships for life.

Power to you!


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