Lauran Bush, Consultant at EP Business in Hospitality, advises how entrepreneurs can stay visible during the Brexit rollercoaster
The Brexit scenario has left many entrepreneurs in a rather dangerous position as they battle to break through decision-making bottlenecks and growing hesitance around investment and funding. Delays surrounding Brexit also led to a great deal of insecurity for small businesses. Concerns related to EU legislation further exacerbate ambiguities as to what the future holds for the lifeblood of the British economy from 2021.
In the rat race to increase bottom-line profit, entrepreneurs often miss the all-important opportunities to keep prospects up to date, maintain personal relationships and stay visible. It just doesn’t carry the same weight as the day to day grind. After all, how do you drive positive messages about your products and services to a market that is disconnected and disengaged? It takes strength, courage and resilience to swim against the tide.
But the truth is larger businesses are struggling too. Many are relocating their distribution and production sites and there is growing pressure to cut costs and retain stability. This, of course, has a knock-on effect for small businesses as many larger companies are dropping smaller, entrepreneurial start-ups in favour of doing business with more established brands. With this in mind, it becomes even more relevant for entrepreneurs to invest in their relationships and nurture those vital personal connections.
Good business is not transactional
The challenge, however, often stems from the approach taken to building those relationships. We often forget that good business in not about the transaction, it’s about something much bigger than that. Developing human relationships based on trust is essential and instrumental to business success, particularly during unpredictable periods.
It’s worth keeping in mind that people will always need innovation. Many small businesses lose sight of this fact and often don’t realise they have something that is worth shouting about. It’s a true saying that you have to blow your own trumpet because no one else will do it for you. Your prospects may be busy people, but keeping them up to date on what you are doing really makes a difference and keeps you in mind for the long haul.
Investing in relationships to boost visibility may also mean giving something back and stepping away from the ‘sell’. Solving problems, sharing solutions and inspiration and becoming something bigger that your product or service, is a great way to differentiate yourself from your competition. Surround yourself with good causes, social good and campaigns that impact you on a more personal level. It’s easier to build connections with people if they can resonate or empathise with you. It’s often about winning hearts and minds and before it is about winning customers.
Creating intelligent interaction
Only those entrepreneurs that have actively invested in their connections and relationships will be ready to hit the ground running in 2021. Yet interestingly, staying visible in a meaningful way is no longer about exhibiting at the next big trade shows, it is about creating more intelligent interactions. As entrepreneurs we have to continually develop our networking skills to stay visible, it takes practice to get it right but building relationships has to be built into the core of everything you do, never for the sake of it. Developing conversations with people outside of the ‘hard sell’ environment will also avoid the air of desperation and give you a more specific reason to broaden the relationship.
When it comes to building relationships today, people tend to excel when they feel valued or part of something bigger, we are inherently tribal as human beings and the desire to network and build meaningful and personal relationships in business is a huge part of our culture. If entrepreneurs can promote the spirit of forming relationships across any sector and move away from product and service and more towards friendship, we stand to create a more positive experience for networking now and into the future.