It’s all about relationships!

image001One of the key ways small business owners in the service sector get business is through referrals – either from customers or from strategic introducers they know well.

But many of us are not very good at requesting referrals or managing the referral process. We often don’t even know the value of a good referral to our business.

In fact, how many of the referrals you get are of the type you want? Or do you end up meeting with prospects, which have been referred to you by a ‘good’ referral partner (by good I mean someone we feel knows our business needs), only to find that they are not the type of prospect you need at all?

Unless we take some level of control over the referral process it is unlikely we will get exactly the type of introductions we need.

One way of taking control is to build really solid relationships with a few referral partners who are regularly updated on they type of business you need – and similarly keep you updated on the business they need. That way you are more likely to get the leads you need.

You can even take it further and include these guys as part of your team. I have this type of relationship with a marketing expert. If one of our clients needs what the other offers we introduce them in a joint meeting (which is free to the client). We discuss their needs, and offer a way forward for the client, after identifying the key areas they need to address.

This is a very powerful model because everyone benefits. The referrer benefits because they are seen as a problem solver who can find solutions beyond their area of expertise by their client; the referree benefits because they have a solid introduction to a potential new client; and the client obviously benefits because their problems are solved with the minimum of effort.

So, if you are looking to grow you business in a controlled manner, review how you get your referrals and work on how you can get a higher quality of introductions.

Fiona ๐Ÿ™‚

Take a little time

Screen Shot 2015-09-28 at 09.09.51We are all busy but I have found if I take a little time out of each working day for myself, I am not only better focussed but I am more creative too.

You may argue that an accountant (whatever the type) doesn’t need much creativity (others may argue that’s all we need!) ย and it is true that we have rules and best practice – however, we also need to be creative when it comes to great solutions for our customers.

Funnily enough I have my best ideas when I am doing some form of exercise. Whether it be jumping around my living room doing aerobics, or tromping over the Mendips, my mind is free from the humdrum.

I don’t believe I would be as effective at seeing the bigger picture for my clients if I did not take time out from the detail. This means being in a state of mind to receive ideas and, for me, that happens when I am NOT at my desk.

It took me a little time to allow myself not to be ‘present’ in my office for eight hours each day. It was a hang up from working in big corporate companies where it is assumed productivity is directly related to the time you spend at your desk.

As I now run my own business it is for me to say under what conditions I will deliver the best results. It’s taken time but I now understand that certain environments are better than others for creating the results we need. Now I am much more confident in going my own way – even if it does not appear to the outside world much like ‘work’.

Of course if you come find some friends to do the exercise with – even in the rain – all the better!

Why not let yourself off the hook a little too and see where it takes you!

Fiona ๐Ÿ™‚