Are you proud of your business? Of course you are.
Are you confident that it’s going to stand the test of time? Absolutely!
Are you actively working to ensure that it does? Um, I’m not sure.
The reality is that many entrepreneurs are too busy with their operating needs to focus on building a sustainable future. Here are a few tips to guide you towards a long-lasting business.
1. Be Real
This is pretty straightforward. Be authentic. Be who you are and accept others as they are. Don’t manufacture a character that isn’t true to who you are; especially online. If you want to build relationships and make actual connections, stick to your own reality. Search for people and companies you feel a natural connection. Your relationships will be so much easier and more rewarding when you both have things in common.
2. Be Relevant
Solve an essential problem for your customers. If you want to stick around for the long haul, become invaluable to your clients.
3. Common Goals and Values are Key
A common value base is a must for enduring customer relationships. We all gravitate towards people in life who we like and share similar goals and values with. It’s the foundation for mutual respect and understanding. Do not misrepresent yourself, only to take advantage of people once they have their trust. We may not always share the same point of view with everyone, but the shared values are a must.
4. Listen to your Customers
Your customers are the most important part of your business – full stop. Listen to them. Act on their feedback. If you do, you have the opportunity to create services and products that serve them over the long run.
5. Build Mutual Trust and Respect
Trust and respect are necessary but elusive qualities for lasting success. That’s especially true online, where companies misrepresent themselves daily. It takes time and consistent effort to develop respect. The process of engaging through a variety of activities and experiences is critical.
Start by joining online communities and professional groups; and start contributing. Be patient, selective and watch people in action. Building mutual respect is essential for growing relationships.
6. Keep Customers Interested
Many new business owners start writing articles or blogs as soon as they begin. This is great, but then they lose interest or motivation over time. If you want to keep people reading your content for the long run, be consistent. You also need to find a format and flow of content that suits you and your business. Stick to a standard template format for continuity. Also, plan your publications in groups to keep a common thread through your articles. Your readers need to get used to your style of writing and look forward to the next release.
7. Expose Your Vulnerability
Your customers are not super-human, invincible forces. They are people too, and they have their own challenges. When you sharing personal stories with them you connect. Stories of loss, frustration, learning opportunities will build stronger bonds with your clients.
Show your vulnerability; is part of your authenticity. Sharing and supporting people through difficulties and challenges is a powerful bonding force.
Very Important. Only share these stories with your personal list of established clients. These are not stories that you want to spread around the internet. Use your judgement.
8. Make Core Values your Compass
Core values are the foundation of every business. Let them guide you and your decisions through the years; they will keep you on the right track. For many businesses, this is the difference between surviving the first 5 years, or not.
First, Make sure that your company values are something you sincerely believe in. What looks good on paper is not what’s important here.
Then, put them in writing and put them into action; every day!
Until you explicitly articulate your core values, your business will be in a state of flux.
9. Have Personal Interactions
If you want to get to know people better, ask them for a one-on-one video call or, even better, go for coffee together. That process of sharing experiences, ideas and points of view is priceless. Not only do you create a more relaxed rapport, but you start building a real personal history too.
10. Start by Serving your Community
Don’t run into a relationship trying to promote your services or products upfront.
Your daily mantra should be: How may I serve you?
So many businesses bombard us with advertising without having any relationship with us. As a result, we have become immune to the barrage of unsolicited hooks and gimmicks. We know they are only focused on trying to separate us from our hard-earned money. They don’t care about actually helping us.
When you interact with your prospective customer pool, offer value first. Start by helping, educating and inspiring others with your experience and expertise. Build a foundation for trust. When we blog, create content, speak, do a workshop, webinar, write an e-book, go to events, we are serving and helping. Serving and helping build trust like nothing else.
11. Build a Community for People to Network with Each Other
Help connect your clients with each other. The greatest compliment you can give in business is a referral. Not all referrals work out, but if we have the right motives then people will appreciate it. Connecting people in your network will also build a stronger base that will support you into the future.
12. Sweat Social Media
Social media can be a helpful tool to expand awareness of your business. Your success is far more likely to last if a wide range of consumers knows about your offerings. Just remember to keep it authentic, and offer value before asking for anything.
13. Use Marketing Automation Across the Customer Lifecycle
As you grow, keeping your contact points with your clients going becomes increasingly difficult. When you get there, start looking at automating some of your processes. Automating your contact points will keep feeding your customers through your sales cycle. It will help you complete sales more, and build a broader client base.
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