Managing your business relationships

Current and potential customers and suppliers, staff, the bank manager, professional advisers, family and partners, perhaps even the public at large, are all 'stakeholders' in your business (a 'stakeholder' is anyone with an interest in your business). You need to find the time to develop the right relationship with all these people and form wider networks of contacts who may in the future become 'stakeholders' too. Managing your relationships properly strengthens the position of your business.

Delegating

If you have staff, you need to give other people tasks that you would otherwise do yourself. Often the owners of small businesses find it difficult to delegate as they believe they are the only ones who can be trusted with anything! As a result, staff fail to learn and develop. They may become frustrated and look for work with more challenging opportunities. Proper delegation is an essential part of good management, abdication is not.

Here are some simple rules on delegating:

Finally, if you want to make your staff more productive by at least 10%, give genuine praise where they deserve it. Have a serious talk with anyone who performs poorly, but do it in a positive manner using questions like:

But more importantly - praise good performance.

To achieve good relationships with your stakeholders, don't just expect to receive what you want. Give them what they want as well. It is up to you to make the contacts and continue to develop the relationships. Research shows that successful businesses are based on good, working 'networks'.

Working with your bank

One of the most important links to manage is with your bank manager.

The key to getting the best out of your bank is to establish a good relationship with your main contact, whether a local manager or Small Business Adviser. The more that they understand about you and your business, the more that they can help you. Although it may seem obvious, many business owners neglect their relationship with their bank, and fail to keep the manager up to date with their current performance, new plans, or with any changes in the business.

When they think of their bank, most people think of their current account.
Other ways that a bank can help include:

If you have taken the other contents of this Guide into account in your plans, borrowing to finance growth is a logical step to achieving more profits. It could be that this is the first time that you've borrowed money for your business. Whether it's your first time or not, presenting your case well can make the difference.

This includes the following:

The bank will then analyse your information, including financial projections. Not every proposal can be approved. If you are turned down, ask yourself if you would lend the money if you were the bank manager.

Borrowing from the bank is of course only one way of funding a business, and it may be a good idea to consider other sources - such as attracting other investors or using family connections. Alternatively, you may be able to get a grant for your business.