In business it pays to have a long memory and to keep a mental score sheet. Always remember those who helped you and, of course, remember those who didn’t. When you know who’s on your side, don’t be afraid to make friends with these business associates.
I don’t know if this is advice that you might read in a textbook or advice that an expert would give you but I’m definitely talking from personal experience. In business I always remember who didn’t help me and, more importantly, who did.
If you keep score it means that when the time comes you can reciprocate and ensure that you help someone who helped you along the way. Be it a supplier, a fellow business owner, a customer or an employee – if they helped you it’s a debt you need to repay. They may not even realise that they did actually help you, but always remember. Repay them and don’t expect a reward or recognition. If they aren’t aware that they helped you, don’t tell them when you help them back!
On the flip side, when it comes to those who didn’t help you, it’s important to not do anything to them or wish ill on them, just stay away and try not to cross paths. Steer clear but never bear grudges. Business has a strange way of making paths cross with people more than once even if you don’t want them to and it helps if you can remember whether or not they’re on your side.
Away from your working life, business associates can also sometimes become your best friends and be in your life long after your business dealings finish. I have a few friends without whom I would feel lost and I met these people many years ago in a business setting. One in particular I have not had any business dealings with for 15 years or so but over the past 15 years he has always been there for me like a rock, through the good times and, more importantly, through the bad times too.
Why do these friendships grow? I believe that the starting point of these friendships is the mutual desire to succeed in a field in which you both have a joint interest. There is also a sense that as these are friendships born out of business, in the early days you are both there to make a gain from each other so it’s easier to get on and not second guess why the friendship is blossoming. Making a profit/money through that friendship is not a taboo because it is the original foundation of the friendship. Also a friend made in business is sometimes easier to talk to as they understand you in a different way to other people that share your life.
These friendships make the journey fun and making money with people you like rather than people you don’t like, is ideal. However it is important to remember that you need to know where to draw the line of friendship and business. That can be hard and dangerous territory. If it gets too murky it can lead to trouble but if you are aware of the boundaries, then it works. It’s worked for me and has been a key ingredient in how I got to where I am today and how I came up on top after so many obstacles along the way.
Entrepreneurs can often find themselves in lonely places and backed into corners. Making calls to these like-minded friends can often help you get some perspective. Business friends make excellent sounding boards because they understand not just you but your business too. They are like your own personal psychiatrists!
I hope one friend of mine in particular reads this. He is now much more than a friend and more like an elder brother. This is my way of thanking you for all that advice and help along the way. And to think it’s been 15 years or so since we did any business together. I owe you much, much more than you may ever know.