Running a successful business is all about the relationships you build with your clients or customers. Those relationships must be positive, productive and profitable. Startups often make the mistake of thinking any business is good business, and engage with clients and customers indiscriminately.
The result is an unstructured client base with wild variations in the quality of the business relationship. Some of those relationships can be negative, troublesome and a drain on resources. Being bound into a contractual relationship with a difficult customer is the last thing any business, especially a start-up, needs. Startups must focus on maximizing return on every investment they make.
To determine if your client base is a positive one, one that benefits your business and inspires the highest levels of productivity, ask yourself the following questions:
. Is the relationship enjoyable?
. Are you and your staff eager to work with the customer aside from financial incentives?
. Do you respect the customer?
. Do you feel that the customer understands and values your business?
. Is the relationship a creative and inspiring one?
A business relationship is like a marriage. To work optimally, there has to be mutual interest and respect. A poor business relationship saps the joy out of the work, which in turn lowers productivity and overall satisfaction. Poor clients can also have a negative impact on cash flow. If there are two things that a start-up needs to be successful, they are a sense of creative excitement in the workplace and a steady cash flow situation.
A carefully structured client list ensures the best possible outcome for your business. Many startups that have a fantastic business concept come unstuck because of their eagerness to sign up with anyone who can pay, without a thought to the longer term implications.
If you own a start-up business, it pays for you to be fussy from the outset. Don’t sell your business short. Time spent researching your potential customers, meeting them and then making a team-wide decision about the potential quality of an ongoing business relationship, will be time well-spent. Always draw up a detailed client profile. If you don’t know what your ideal customer looks like, then you are probably not yet ready to start a business.
You should focus your energy on marketing your business only to a laser-targeted client list. Building a positive, well-structured customer base will require more patience and hard work, but ultimately it will increase productivity and the profit margin. It will ensure that every transaction is a positive and enjoyable experience, fueling your enthusiasm for the long term. So if you have a start-up, respect and value your business as much as you would want your customers to, and be choosy about who you work with right from the word go.
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