In business, it's not the transactions that are important, but rather the relationships you build. These ensure that you have a stable business that you can depend upon. It's your relationships with your partners that ensure a stable financial backing. It's your relationships with your suppliers that ensure a steady flow of raw materials. It's your relationships with your customers that ensure you earn a good profit. Good employer-employee relationships ensure smooth business operations.
Here are some things you can improve on, in order to strengthen business relationships.
Employees - Employees are the bread and butter of any business. Your human resources should be your top resource. Employees should be happy and content to be productive. Management should not be seen as the enemy, but rather the partner in better business. Therefore, you should encourage among your employees a sense of ownership. They are stakeholders, after all, and what they do affects the business as a whole. If they love the business, they will help it grow.
You can reward employees by making them part of the company's owners through stock options. Or you can make it a point to personally know everyone, from top management to the lowest rank and file position. Try to remember everyone's birthday. And foster a sense of belongingness by throwing a small get together for each month's birthday celebrants.
Suppliers - Your vendors are another lifeline of your business, and you should treat them like part of the company itself. They are not working directly for you, but they are partners. Therefore, you should treat them with respect, and not undercut them. Everyone should be treated as part of the business, including sales representatives from other companies, logistics personnel, even contractors who keep some parts of your business running for you.
Customers - Customer relations may be the most difficult part of running a business. But the best way to get customers to trust you is by being transparent. Join in discussions with them, whether online or offline, so they know how your company runs. At the same time, you can get honest feedback from them on what they think of your products, or what other services they might need. You can open an online forum, a blog or even a social networking account, where you can get to know other people personally.
You can assign someone from your management or staff to do the communicating work. Make sure that your client base sees this assigned staff as a real person, rather than a corporate communications department, which they will likely trust less.
Investors and creditors - Be sure to pay your bills and other payables on time. Running a business with bad credit is very risky, because people will be afraid to bankroll any plans for improvement or expansion. You will also lose trust in your industry if you have a bad reputation among banks and investors.
If you have venture capital funding, be sure to keep your investors in the loop. Make sure they are part of the decision making, and that they know what big things your company is planning. It's their money after all, and they have entrusted it to fund your idea. They deserve to know how you plan to grow their money through your business.
Running a business should be a coordinated effort. An entrepreneur is not in it alone, because there are other people who help make running the business possible. Nurturing professional relationships with these other people can improve a business' viability and profitability in the long run.