May 14, 2009

How Strong is Your Foundation?

You have probably heard the old saying about the foundation for success in building a retail store or food service operation…location, location, location. With the advent of the internet and the changing world of business this old axiom may need to be rethought.

But there is another saying that is still very true for the foundation of success for any business. It states the obvious yet sometimes forgotten importance of the human side of business…relationships, relationships, relationships.

When people ask what I do in my role as a business owner and entrepreneur my reply is simple; we help organizations attract, develop and retain their leaders of tomorrow.

Do we provide training programs, coaching and consulting? The answer is YES! Do we sell and service a well-known and highly respected line of learning products that augment and build on the programs we deliver? YES! Do we provide a wide variety of human resources, valuable information and e-technology to meet the needs of our clients? The answer is again, YES! But most importantly, all of what we do revolves around thriving relationships that begin with personal or shared benefits for all people involved.

What does that mean? It doesn’t mean going into a formal documentation nor a legal agreement of how we will interact and relate to one another. It doesn’t mean I won’t spend time with someone if I don’t quickly see some kind of personal benefit for me in it either.

What it does mean is that I am constantly looking for ways that I can bring benefit to the other person without bringing harm, loss or problems to myself. It does mean I have to consider what is ‘the ultimate good’ for both of us so that a short term or front end sharing doesn’t turn into a long term ‘being used’. We’ve all experienced that and it’s not something we want to repeat.

With all good relationships there are two people who must share some common goals and/or values and have a reason for starting and continuing in the relationship. There can be a variety of types of relationships; some business and some personal. Some will lead to long-term relationships that are extremely profitable, and more than just in a monetary sense. Some might be short term but nonetheless of benefit to both people.

The bottom line of any relationship is akin to the sage advice handed down to me many years ago. A very wise and prosperous business and life mentor said, ‘a good deal must be a good deal for both people or it’s not a good deal’. The same principle holds true in any relationship.

The question and challenge comes with “how to make it a good deal” for both people over the long term so that the relationship grows, deepens and enriches itself with time.

How that is accomplished could be the focus of a future posting on this same subject. Keep reading and come back often.

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