10 Foolproof Ways To Build Better Business Relationships

Two focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. Many people think about business simply in terms of profit, but there’s a huge people and relationship component that impacts your profits and growth. The following contributed post is entitled, 10 Foolproof Ways To Build Better Business Relationships.

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Strong business relationships are essential if your business is going to not only survive, but thrive. Building relationships with your teams, suppliers, and anybody else who comes into contact with your business is key. This way, you’ll build a solid reputation, as well as retain your customers and gain new customers. Below, we’ll take a look at 10 foolproof ways to build better business relationships. Take a look!

1. Encourage Honest Feedback
Start encouraging honest feedback from various people you come into contact with, your team members, suppliers, customers, etc. Give them the opportunity to provide it anonymously if possible, as this may make it more attractive. Honest feedback is an opportunity for your business to learn and improve, so make sure you put plans into place to action it. Don’t just ask for feedback – make sure you’re doing something with it. You might think that you’re doing everything amazingly, but somebody in a different department or on a different job could disagree. Make sure you want to help by listening and making things better.

2. Listen More Than You Talk
Start listening more than you talk. Great listeners always build better relationships, because they can read between the lines, ask questions, and really get to the heart of the matter. If you’re always just jumping in and waiting for your turn to speak, you’ll never truly listen properly or build strong connections. Practice your listening skills and don’t immediately try to jump in with what you have to offer. Make sure any staff who are in the sales department are trained properly and know how to do this, too.

3. Give More
How can you give more? Can you provide freebies, discount codes, or incentives to come back in other ways? Providing free things of value can make a huge difference and shows that you are a generous company that wants to help – and also that you actually value people. You can provide more to your own team by giving them things like gym memberships and bonuses as incentives, as well as more time off. Don’t just give them the bare minimum.

4. Admit Your Mistakes
Companies make mistakes all the time. The only time it is truly a problem is if they don’t acknowledge them, pass the blame, or lie. Admitting your mistakes is hard but it’ll make you a better business and ensure you are as authentic as possible in your communications. Everybody will respect you more if you commit to admitting your mistakes and learning from them.

5. Make It More Personal
Make your communications with people more personal where appropriate. Remember names, ask them how they are, and try to mention something you discussed last time so they know you remember them and that you’re interested in continuing to build a relationship with them.

Image from pexels

6. Stick With The Same Suppliers
You can’t flit from supplier to supplier in the hopes of building relationships and getting better deals if you’re not giving them a chance in the first place. Places like Humphrey-Products.com can provide manufacturing equipment, and if you stick with them then you will be able to build a more meaningful relationship. Make sure you stick with your suppliers for a while before you decide whether they are working for you or not.

7. Identify Shared Goals and Values
Make sure that whether you’re hiring somebody new or looking for a new supplier to work with, you’re seeking out people with the same shared goals and values. Make sure your goals are in alignment. For instance, if you’re a company that wants to have a positive impact on the environment, you should look to work with people who also want the same thing and are taking steps to do it. Make sure you consider other things, such as how honest they are, how helpful, and moral character of the people you’re working with. Is there mutual respect? You don’t necessarily need the same POV, but having shared values is important.

8. Share Valuable Content For Free
Sharing valuable content for free can be scary. Why would you just give away everything you know like that? This not only helps you to establish your business as an authority, but it adds value to the lives of your audience. They might just read your content and decide to work with you, or make a mental note to come back to you. They could share your content with people they know who they think will find it useful. There are all kinds of reasons you should look into creating valuable content and sharing it for free. Look into blog posts, videos, infographics, and other shareable content. You can even work with companies to help you create and edit this content, so do that if you’re short on time. Content is king and can help with your marketing in a number of ways, as well as other aspects of business.

9. Make Sure Everybody Is On The Same Page
Ensure that everybody within your company is on the same page. They should know how to treat and speak to people, whether they are customers of your business or not. Customer service training is essential, but everybody is representing your company and should therefore know how to interact with people. You can easily develop a reputation if one of your team members appears to have a bad attitude.

10. Send Corporate Gifts
Sending out corporate gifts can be a great way to congratulate another business or partner, or celebrate a special occasion. These gifts can be useful, such as mugs, bags, and other things, or they can be branded merchandise. Whatever you choose to send out, ensure that it’s something they can really use that will help them to think positively of your brand and think of you should they need your services.

Building better relationships isn’t always easy, but it’s always worth it. Take your time, be authentic and honest, and you should get to where you want to be eventually. Thanks for reading!

Lasting lessons basketball taught me: Different things to different people

“The coaches at some of the other Yale Cup schools thought I had an unfair competitive advantage because of the intramural program I started at Hutch-Tech!”

The first principle of my blog is “Creating Ecosystems of Success”. I originally published this series on the Examiner back in 2014 and have subsequently began adding to it. As a teen I dreamt of being a basketball player just like a lot of kids – a dream for which one must have lots of ability, drive, and luck to achieve. My experience turned out to be quite the adventure, and I didn’t formally play basketball beyond high school. The lessons I learned there however, not all of them happy and pleasant, helped me as I progressed into adulthood and into my Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) career. As mentioned, when I began reposting this series, I’ve started working on an ambitious writing project chronicling my early basketball journey in Western New York.

If I’m able to get my project published, one of the things that will be special about it is that it’s a story involving real people. The project has required me to do multiple interviews. It has been both an interesting and fun experience. As noted by well-established authors like John U. Bacon, who has written numerous books on Michigan Football, some people are open to being interviewed and being characters in book projects, while others are reluctant. Some agree and then drop out of contact, while others are difficult to contact. As a writer I now understand why some names must be changed in the final story.

I consider my breakthrough interview to be that of Jason Rowe, which led to interviews with others, and I want to thank everyone who participated; some of whom I’ve never met personally. My interview with Jason was followed by an interview with Coach Pat Monti and then his star guards, Carlos Bradberry and Tim Winn. It’s been a fun ride with at least one more big interview on the way, so stay tuned.

One of the key figures in my story is Dr. Kenneth Leon Jones, who was the Head Coach of the Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team during my freshman, sophomore and junior years. Before he passed away at the end of 2018, Coach Jones told me that he was okay with being a character in my story. In my piece about his basketball camp, I discussed Coach Jones, what I learned from him and what he meant to me.

That was just my perspective though and I discovered many other points of view on Coach Jones in my research. I actually started learning of other peoples’ views of Coach Jones in my junior season where I hit some personal adversities. My struggles, in part, contributed to our team’s struggling and spiraling out of control that season. During my personal storm one classmate sought me out one day and told me that he disliked Coach Jones because he had ‘cut’ his brother years earlier. It was then that I realized that there were many backstories to Coach’s tenure at Hutch-Tech in addition to the successes he experienced my freshman year.

“Most of the time, when somebody is giving you orders and instructions, if you’re not emotionally ready – if you’ve got your mind on the wrong part, you’re not going to try as hard. You’re not going to be into it. You’re not going to absorb as much,” said a player I’ll call “Curtis” about Coach Jones in my interview with him. Curtis was the ‘engine’ that powered Coach Jones’ 1990-91 city and sectional championship team. He said a lot of powerful things during our interview, but this quote very much applies to the relationship between coaches and players, much which I experienced myself, or witnessed with teammates.

One of the cool things about working on a project where you’re interviewing multiple people is that you get to hear multiple points of view. Amazingly, my interviews for The Engineers revealed that Coach Jones was multiple things to multiple people. While there was a group of us who held him in high reverence, appreciated his teachings and the mentoring he gave us, he had several detractors as well. Again, he was multiple things to multiple people. His detractors fell into three groups, some of which might surprise you.

The first group consisted of some of the other coaches in our league called the “Yale Cup”, which was the league for all the Buffalo Public Schools. For those readers unfamiliar with the Yale Cup in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it consisted of fourteen schools. Three schools that no longer exist today are: Buffalo Traditional, Kensington and Seneca Vocational High School.

The Yale Cup was a poorly funded league which lacked a Junior Varsity (JV) program at all its schools to properly prepare its players for Varsity competition. Coach Jones and the Buffalo News called this a “feeder system”. The result was a 14-team league where all of the teams were run differently, and where all the coaches had varying levels of experience and interest. This led to drastically different levels of coaching and attention to detail. Some of the Varsity coaches (Coach Jones included), ran an informal JV program for no extra pay simply because there was a need for it.

We also played in outdated and antiquated facilities. Many of the gyms in the Yale Cup league looked like antiquated factory storage rooms with peeling paint and old industrial smells. Most of our gyms had solid white backboards without ‘break away’ rims. Only a few of the courts, like those at Grover Cleveland and McKinley for example, had ‘regulation-size’ courts with the proper dimensions. Our old little gym at Hutch-Tech was more of a small box than anything. Someone I interviewed recently jokingly said that Performing Arts’ gym resembled a bit of a bowling alley.

“The coaches at the other schools thought I had an unfair competitive advantage because of the intramural program I started at Hutch-Tech,” Coach Jones said during one of our interviews. He shared a lot of things with me that I didn’t know as a teen and probably wouldn’t have understood. There were so many layers – so many things happening at once surrounding the Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team in plain sight and behind the scenes. The same is true for Coach Jones’ two immediate successors who I’ll keep anonymous at this time.

One of the hallmarks of Coach Jones’ tenure at Hutch-Tech was his intramural program. The program was for all the boys in the school so that everyone could get taste of competition and where a champion was crowned. More specifically, it allowed Coach Jones to scout the talent in each class. It wasn’t something he was doing for extra pay, but instead it was something for the students and for the school.

“Some of Jones’ players played angry,” a former player also from Coach Jones’ city and sectional championship team who I’ll call “Pep”, said jokingly. My interview with Pep might be my favorite of all of the interviews I’ve done simply because I could hear that he was having so much fun talking about his playing days. In any case, Coach Jones’ second group of detractors were surprisingly on some of his rosters.

Before getting to Hutch-Tech, the program looked like a utopia from the outside. My research though revealed that there were several conflicts and perpetually hurt feelings involving some of Coach Jones’ players. In some instances, there were personality conflicts. In other instances, there were players who felt they had to prove themselves repeatedly and in general felt unappreciated. Some players felt that they didn’t play enough, and others didn’t play at all though they were given roster spots.

The third group of detractors were outside of the team, but in the student body. The individual who stands out the most for this group is the classmate described above, but there were others. The reality in life is that there are winners and losers, and there usually isn’t enough of everything to go around. This particularly applies to a basketball team where a coach can realistically keep up to 18 players, while only being able to play 8-10 regularly.

In short, not every kid at my school who wanted a roster spot got one, and there are any number of reasons for that. I may write another teaser-piece just on the criteria Coach Jones presented on his ‘invite list’. That’s right, during his tenure, you couldn’t just come out for the basketball team, you had to be invited. This cut a lot of kids out of the picture from the start even before having a chance to show him they could dribble the ball, make baskets, play defense or even run one of his offenses.

Why does this all matter? Like the entire story, it was a sample of what was to come throughout the rest of my life in college and then in the adult world. For some of us who earned roster spots and submitted to his coaching, Coach was father figure, a mentor and a leader. Others on his teams felt like his whipping boys and even underappreciated. Other students didn’t feel like they were given a fair chance to play. Some didn’t like his fundamentals-based way of teaching the game. Some of the other coaches in our Yale Cup league thought he was cheating.

This is why interscholastic sports are good teachers going forward in life. Two of the things you learn about in addition to your sport, are people and leadership – neither of which are easy aspects to manage. As a leader, whether it’s a coach, a college professor, a clergyman or a supervisor, not everyone sees you the same way. Depending on our backgrounds, our values, our individual natures, and where our minds are in seasons of our lives, our experiences with that person will vary, and in many instances, vary greatly. It’s also true that because we may see a given person differently, our truths may be different.

Whether it was the Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team, my research lab in graduate school, or now within the government agency I work in everyday, there were always individuals charged with leading larger groups or teams. Some people within those teams possess different levels and proficiencies at their crafts. All possess different levels of emotional intelligence. Some are better communicators than others, and some are just better team players than others.

“If I could go back, I would be just as demanding, but more understanding,” Coach Jones said to me several times during our talks. He knew that he drove his players hard and demanded a lot from us. He also concluded that he could’ve been a little more understanding of each player and what they were going through as each of us came from different homes and had different life struggles in our teens.

“If you look at that team that almost made it to Glens Falls, Coach Jones let that team do a lot, but that was all earned. He said, ‘Hey, I’ll let you shoot a three-pointer or a long jump shot outside the offense because I know that we’re playing good enough defense that we’re going to get a possession back,” said a former teammate named “Chris” who played under Coach Jones for four years. Chris was a captain on our team in my sophomore year and a true leader. Some of Coach Jones’ critics thought he was too restrictive and controlling of his teams, particularly on offense.

“When I went to college, I played Division III at the Coast Guard Academy. I didn’t play Varsity, but instead played on the equivalent of our JV squad. We played against a bunch of junior colleges and prep schools. I’ll say that I was able to shoot the ball a lot more,” Chris said. “I look back though, and I think if we were able to play defense like we did in high school, we would’ve been able to keep up with a bunch of those teams. So, shooting the ball wasn’t always the best policy.”

I’ll probably write another teaser-piece just talking about the program Coach Jones created at Hutch-Tech, but for now I’ll just say that if done right, while it can be rewarding, coaching isn’t easy. You must not only have to know your sport and its evolving nuances, but you must also assemble a team of players, develop them and get them to buy into a common goal. That isn’t easy as coaches must also play psychologist, in addition to a quasi-parent in some instances, especially for kids who don’t have fathers or who come from tumultuous homes.

This piece isn’t unique to Coach Jones. He was my coach. If you read my interview with Jason Rowe, Jason stated that while his Coach, Joe Cardinal, was highly scrutinized, his players loved him. Ironically, even though Coach Cardinal was highly criticized, his Bulls coincidentally made deep runs in the post-season play most years. The same is true for Coach Pat Monti who led the LaSalle basketball dynasty. During his 10-year run of dominance leading the LaSalle Explorers, there were numerous critiques about him and his program from the outside. Talking to him and his players on the inside was completely different though.

The first picture used for this post is the schedule for the 1989-90 Hutch-Tech Boys’ Basketball Team. In the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pepsi-Cola of Western New York used to create cardboard schedules for the area high school teams in addition to hosting the Al Pastor Memorial Basketball Tournament for a select number of schools. It was Coach Jones’ second season at Hutch-Tech. I was an eighth grader looking to go into high school and was learning about Coach and his teams through my brother Amahl who was a sophomore that year and his Hutch-Tech yearbooks.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post. If you enjoyed this post, you might also enjoy:

Jason Rowe discusses Buffalo Traditional Basketball, the Yale Cup and State Tournaments
Niagara Falls basketball legend, Tim Winn, discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls basketball legend, Carlos Bradberry, discusses playing in the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Niagara Falls coaching legend, Pat Monti, discusses building, and leading the LaSalle basketball dynasty part one
Chris Herren discusses his journey, drug addiction, substance abuse and wellness

If you’ve found value here and think it will benefit others, please share it and or leave a comment. To receive the most up to date content from the Big Words Blog Site, subscribe using the subscription box in the right-hand column in this post and throughout the site. Please visit my YouTube channel entitled Big Discussions76. Lastly, follow me on the Big Words Blog Site Facebook page, on Twitter at @BWArePowerful, and on Instagram at @anwaryusef76. While my main areas of focus are Education, STEM and Financial Literacy, there are other blogs/sites I endorse which can be found on that particular page of my site.

What Could Enhance Your Local Community

The first principle of my blog is Creating Ecosystems of Success. If you’re involved in your city’s urban planning, you want to figure out how to get the most out of your area for your residents and your community. Addressing a few areas can make more community a place everyone will want to move to. The following contributed post is entitled, What Could Enhance Your Local Community.

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When it comes to your local community, you may feel like you have a solid connection with it. It may have been a place that you grew up in, or somewhere that you have grown to love having recently moved into the area. However, is your local community thriving? More people are doing what they can to improve the areas they live, and because of that, it can benefit you in other ways such as an increase in property values. So what can you do to enhance your local community? Here are some of the best ways you can do it.

Image source – Pixabay – CC0 License

Add a golf course if you have the space

It is always going to be a good idea to encourage more recreational activities in your local area, and one of the ways you could do that is through opening up a golf course. It could be the type of golf course that has a clubhouse that can hold events, or just simple a recreational space that can be enjoyed by all. This is when you may need the help of experts in Golf Course Building Consultation to help come up with a plan and make sure that things are on the right path. This could be a great way to help encourage more activity in the community and give the local people lots more options.

Make fitness a focus

Fitness is really important for people to enjoy a healthy lifestyle, but often the worry of costs of gym membership can be too much. So this could be a great opportunity for the community to make fitness more of a focus. This could be easily done through things such as adding free equipment in the parks. They can be easy to install and makes fitness available for the masses. Then there is the introduction of bike lanes and pathways for runners. This encourages more people to feel confident in getting out and enjoying activities like this without the worry of getting in peoples way.

Encourage small businesses to thrive

The heart of the community is the small businesses and the shops that line the high street and the local area, and these are often the things that suffer within the community when things are not going the right way. The way that people can support their community is to shop locally and support the local businesses in the area. This can help them to thrive, and it can also help you to make the most of what you have on your doorstep.

Create local events all can get involved in

Finally, the last thing to consider doing would be to organise local events. This could be ones that have a family focus, or ones that are specific for businesses to get involved in. It brings people together and it can also be the perfect way to boost the economy in the area and make it thrive.

Let’s hope that these tips help you to encourage more people to enhance the local community in different ways.

Why You Just Can’t Attract The Right People To Your Startup

Two of the focuses of my blog are Financial Literacy/Money and Business/Entrepreneurship. An important part of any business/organization is attracting the personnel you need to for it to achieve its mission. The following contributed post is thus entitled; Why You Just Can’t Attract The Right People To Your Startup.

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The early days in most startups are a lot of fun. You’re usually among a team of people you respect and admire and with whom you get on well. There’s a degree of necessity in this: you need to get on so that you can pay back angel investors and venture capitalists.

But over time, startups need to take on more people, whether it’s to develop new products or support the work of the core employees. And here’s where the problems can start. New people joining an organization can often cause conflict and chaos. New arrivals may leave after several weeks if they’re not happy with the conditions. And you, as the founder, are left with the headache of trying to find somebody else to fill the role: something that’s often expensive to do.

Let’s take a look at some of the reasons why you might not be able to find the right people for your business, and how you can fix it.

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You Have A Poor Brand Or Reputation

Today’s labor market is entirely different from the labor market of the 1970s and 1980s, yet many businesses still operate as if nothing has changed. For starters, there’s far less unemployment than there was in the era of unionization and coal mining. There are many jobs, and workers have a lot of choices. Low unemployment means that workers can demand higher wages and find better jobs more easily than ever before. They don’t just have to stick with the same employer, decade after decade.

Secondly, talented people know that they’re capable. They know that they can show their CV to another firm and get a job with them quickly. Companies are crying out for people with the skills necessary to drive their businesses forward: there’s a chronic shortage right now.
Startups, therefore, need to be savvy. They can’t just rely on the fact that they provide jobs to attract people to work with them. There’s far too much choice available to people these days, especially at the high end of the market. People who are in-demand can pretty much choose who they work for and when.

Startups, therefore, need to think about how they appear as both a customer and an employer brand. Google, for instance, is one of the most attractive companies to work for in the world because of the well-known job perks the company offers to staff. Incredible office spaces, health cover, exciting days out, time each week to pursue side projects: you name it, the company does it.

Lower down the skill ladder are other companies like Zavvi, which offer excellent pay and conditions for warehouse workers, in stark contrast to some other online retailers.
Successful startups are those who can market their desirability as an employer. It’s not just about great pay: it’s also about what it’s actually like to work at your organization. Most workers would be willing to sacrifice a lower paycheck for a great relationship with their manager, for instance.

Building an employer brand isn’t as difficult as you might think. If you’re a new company, try becoming a member of the employer review site Glassdoor. Glassdoor allows employees to post reviews about their experience of working with you. Their reviews often reveal a lot about the company culture, how they can expect to be treated, and whether their peers would recommend working with you.

You Don’t Do The Basics Right

It’s no secret that startups can be chaotic. When Elon Musk and Peter Thiel were working on Paypal, it wasn’t unusual for them to put in 90-hour weeks. But just because running a startup is difficult, doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t get the basics right. Just as you would judge an applicant on any spelling or grammar mistakes they made on their CV; high-quality people will do the same for you.

Make sure that you do the following:

● Check your website for spelling, grammar, and punctuation errors. Pay particular attention to the candidate-facing parts of your site. If you’re not a native speaker, find an internal colleague or external professional to proofread your content for you.
Make sure your emails are well-written. Good email writing is a hallmark of a professional company and a signal to high-quality people that you are an excellent employer. Yes, it might seem trivial, but people who don’t know you or your startup usually have very little to go on, and so any obvious and silly grammatical errors may count against you. Make sure that your HR staff knows the difference between “your” and “you’re” – a particularly common mistake.

Your Recruitment Process Does Not Respect Applicants

Some companies are still stuck in the past, believing that there are thousands of people lining up to take a job with them, no matter how rude or obnoxious they are. Firms will host application days where candidates attend mass meetings together only to be berated and ridiculed by company bosses.

Startups should avoid this kind of thing altogether and instead focus on investigating each promising individual based on their merits. They should also be respectful of candidates’ time. That means reducing the length of the application process and ensuring adequate notice of any interview days or on-the-job assessments.

You’re Not Using The Right Recruiters

Inexperienced startups can fall into the trap of thinking that all recruiters are the same. But labour hire is a multifaceted process that involves creating the right linkages to relevant people and knowing where to look. Too many startups focus on building links with a single recruiter, without really thinking about whether that recruiter specializes in the right areas.

Using the wrong recruiters can result in all kinds of headaches for startups. The first issue is the fees, which can be quite substantial. But the main problem is not getting the people you need with experience to drive growth in those critical early months and years. It’s people who drive growth, and so when it doesn’t materialize, it can have a severe impact on your overall business.

You’re Focusing Too Narrowly

Pixabay

Many inexperienced entrepreneurs believe that they must get the people with the exact qualifications and experience that they need, and with a personality that fits their company. If not, they should just keep on looking. But it turns out that this might not be the best strategy.

Elon Musk has repeatedly said in interviews that he wishes that he hadn’t paid so much attention to candidate’s CVs in the early days. He would often find that somebody would have the technical skills on paper, but that they just wouldn’t be very good at their job or fit in with the people around them. Over the years, he found himself regularly surprised by people who weren’t particularly good on paper, but ended up doing exceptionally well once employed in his companies.

Companies, especially startups, shouldn’t expect people to come to them fully-fledged. Instead, they should view candidates as a work-in-progress: something that requires further development as time goes on. Smart entrepreneurs choose people they believe have the potential to develop into the leaders of the future rather than just people with the right skills on paper.

Your Job Advertising Is Boring

If you’re trying to attract exciting, talented people to your organization, you need to give them a reason to read your job ad. Just stating the salary and listing bullet points of the responsibilities of the role is hardly inspiring stuff.

There are all sorts of ways that you could add a bit of “oomph” to your advert:

● Give them a flavor of your company culture. People want to work in exciting, stimulating environments where people are friendly and engaging. If this describes your startup, say so in your job ad, and make it clear that you want people with a similar approach to work as you.
Talk about purpose. Talented people are rarely satisfied with going to work to get a paycheck. They want real meaning in their lives. If your startup is trying to do something that will make the world a better place, then talk about this in your ad. Make it clear that the candidate who gets the job will have meaning and purpose in their role.
Use exciting, personable language. Finally, it’s worth thinking about how you present the job. Many startups believe that they have to be as dry as possible to come across as professional, but doing so is unlikely to attract the most interesting people. It’s much better to use exciting language and to really tell a story about what the job entails. Draw them in – don’t push them out.

You Haven’t Described The Role

Newbie entrepreneurs sometimes struggle to accurately define roles in their businesses, just because their needs change all the time. A startup that needs a software programmer may not know exactly what kind of programmer they need, or what additional responsibilities they may have.

Unclear job ads can lead to employing unsuitable people who leave after a couple of weeks when they realize that they cannot do the work. Be precise about what you need in your advertisements, or consult with external recruiting professionals if you’re not sure.