In today’s business climate, there really are just two types of business – big businesses capitalizing on the high volume, low cost model; and small businesses based on relationships.
If your business is not the size of Walmart, for example, you’re not going to be able to compete on cost. But where you can outshine the big boys is in service, quality, and uniqueness. These form the platform of a relationship-based business.
A great example of this is Saddleback Leather, a highly successful business operated by dear friends of mine Chuck Bowen. What makes Saddleback so successful is not that its products are cheap – in fact, they are not. What makes Saddleback a great business is that it is a great relationship-based business. It has almost a cult following of folks who will pay top dollar because they know they are getting excellent quality and service. They know the story of Dave Munson, its founder and president, and his mission. They know that when they buy a Saddleback product, they are getting a product that is unique and high quality, and that the Saddleback team offers stellar service.
Solid business relationships (among team members, company to customer, vendor to company, etc.) are built on these important pillars:
• Mutual respect
• Shared experience
• Growth of each person
As you think of your business and working relationships, run through this checklist with clients, team members, partners, and vendors in mind. Are all five pillars in place? Is there mutual respect? Are you working together, creating shared experiences? Is there trust? Are you giving and not just receiving? Are you focusing on the growth of each member of your team?
To the extent that you answer yes, your business has the foundation needed to be successful.
In fact, it’s a pretty good barometer of any endeavor in life.