By Mark Creedon
Understand who your business community is
When we talk about community, we often think of the good things we read about in the local news.
Community spirit is often spoken of when talking about solidarity and support in difficult or challenging times.
Generally, talk of community is associated with support and a positive feel.
The dictionary defines community as a group of people which shares common values and social cohesion or a group of people helping each other.
Community exists in business too
One of the things which really impressed me was a coaching community we are part of and how we were welcomed as apart of the ‘family’ right from the start.
It was one of the reasons which we decided to begin our Business Accelerator Mastermind.
There were business owners and senior management leaders who were looking for a community of successful leaders without the pressure of networking events or sales groups.
In your industry, a supplier who understands the meaning and the significance of a business community is an asset but more importantly is one who understands that they too are a part of that community.
I work with businesses all over Australia in a range of industries and I am always amazed at suppliers who seem to go out of their way to alienate themselves from the community of their retailers, creating an unhealthy “them” and “us” mentality.
Similarly, though I am also dismayed at retailers who refuse to think of their supplier as a part of their own business community.
So let’s think of what a community means to you in business
When we look at the service industry community I think of the following:
- Other businesses in your industry
- Your suppliers
- Your business neighbours
- Local charity and community groups
- Larger state-wide or national charity organisations
Now is a great time to think about ways in which you can engage with each of these communities.
Let’s take a quick look at the how and why.
1. Other businesses in your industry
Remember you are not alone and the frustrations you feel in your business are probably very similar to the frustrations other business people have experienced.
You can learn from what they have done.
Perhaps they have come across a great way to solve a frustration or to create a new business opportunity.
You may very well be able to learn something from them which you can apply in your business. It is one of the reasons why I like to work across a range of industries, so you can see what may have worked well in one situation and apply it to solve an issue in another.
Remember, you may also be able to help a fellow business owner by sharing your experience.
2. Your suppliers
One of the first things I encourage clients to do is to foster the relationship with their supplier. If you want that little bit of extra assistance or support for your business, a close relationship with your supplier will go a long way.
Sure you buy from them which makes you the customer.
And, after all the customer is always right.
But it makes it much easier to get what you want if the relationship is a positive one.
You may win once or twice by demanding what you think you are entitled to but in the long term you want a relationship built on mutual respect.
Try asking for something extraordinary from someone you have a tense relationship with!
3. Business neighbours
Your business neighbours can be a great source of support.
You are all in small business so you can share the positives and negatives.
Knowing you have someone there to help keep an eye on things from a security and safety perspective is priceless but they can also be an exceptional source of referrals.
You can think about joint promotions and strategic alliances and also band together to create a stronger buying power for marketing and advertising.
4. Local charities
These are always looking for support. It will boost your profile, give you a source of referrals and you will simply feel better. Recent research out of the United Kingdom showed that business owners and employees who engaged in charity work on a regular basis increased their workplace and their general health.
5. National charities
The same applies for national charities. If you have a charity which is close to your heart then support them.
Or you may choose to select a charity which means something to one or more of your customers. Remember that supporting a charity doesn’t have to cost a lot of money.
I work with a number of charities and often they are as much interested in creating awareness for their charity as they are about raising money.
So, think about your community and what you can offer.
You will feel better all-around if you take some time to look at each of these and you will more than likely improve your business at the same time.
Mark Creedon is the founder of Business Accelerator mastermind by Metropole and business coach to some of Australia’s leading entrepreneurs – helping them build a true business, not a job.
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