“Misery loves company” – we often think of this cliché when it comes to someone trying to bring others down with them, or to create negative vibes. But, at its root, this is more than a cliché. According to the Association for Psychological Science, pain, turmoil, tragedy, etc. work as “social glue”, binding people together as a way to increase survival.
Our businesses are no different. When faced with common external pressures, such as recessions, natural disasters, and pandemics like COVID-19, businesses can find the strength and the resources to survive by coming together. Businesses and business owners join together to share the load, share resources, and level out the pressure. For businesses, this is sometimes easier said than done because many businesses operate in a silo during normal times, making it difficult for them to have aligned networks to lean on.
If you are a business owner, no matter what the economic climate is you need support systems.
Your business needs at least 4 “friends”. Not you…your business. Yes, you can’t be stingy with your BFF’s, your business needs friends also. But if you really do not want to share, these can be people that you are personally connected to. The point of these relationships is to strengthen your business, not just to socialize.
At a minimum, your business should have:
A Level Up Relationship
This is a connection with a business / business owner that is where you want to be. This could be a formal or informal mentor relationship. This should be a connection that stretches you and requires you to grow personally and professionally.
At Least 2 Peer Relationships
These are connections with businesses that are at a similar place in their business cycle. They do not need to be in the same industry, but they should be business owners that can hold you accountable when you set goals, and can help you get connected with the people and the resources needed to stay innovative and efficient. These peer relationships can be referral or partner sources, if the businesses are complimentary. If they are not, then the businesses can work together to share referral networks. But the main goal of the business relationship is to grow the business and to have some one else that understands what you are experiencing as a business owner.
One Reach Back Relationship
This relationship is with a business owner that is striving to grow into what you have achieved. No matter what stage of your business you are currently in, there is someone that you can help.
“The best way to reinforce what you know is to teach it.”
Helping another business owner helps to solidify what you know. Often when we teach someone else we remind ourselves to go back to the basics, and we also remind ourselves of what we have accomplished and overcome.
In the midst of crisis, like COVID, business owners need each other more than ever. We need to be able to have partners that we can lean on to get the emotional and tactical support needed to overcome economic pressure. Working together, business owners can:
- Share distribution channels
- Create complementary products and services
- Share resources and expenses
- Hold one another accountable
These are the value-adds necessary for businesses to survive. These connections are needed, not only in times of crisis, but at all times.
To ensure the partnerships created can serve the highest good of both businesses, it is crucial to ensure:
- Alignment of the business values
- Clear boundaries regarding the relationships
- Confidentiality agreements to protect each business
- Documentation regarding any business referrals and transactions
- Respectful and open communication
- Goals for the relationship…remember to keep it professional
Some places where you can search for value-added business relationships include:
- LinkedIn – You can search through your groups and connections to find other business owners
- Professional Networks – National association chapters with other professionals in your industry are often great places to find peer relationships
- Networking Groups – Local groups such as, BNI, Vistage and Toastmasters attract business owners from diverse industries
- Training Programs – A great way to gain the most out of a training program is to connect with an accountability partner. These partners can definitely grow into long-term supportive relationships
The relationships that your business creates are similar to the ones you create in your personal life. They take time to develop, they require trust and communication, they grow best when they are nurtured and also when there is alignment of goals and values.
Throughout my business career, I have had the great opportunity to partner with and learn from some really powerful businesses. If my business had best friends, they would be:
- Acuity Coaching
- Chosen Media
- Baltimore Metropolitan Women Busines Center
Who are your business BFF’s? Share below.