Strong Relationships Are Still the Key to Business Success

You’re never alone in your business—not even as a solopreneur. From customers to wholesale retailers to investors, there’s a larger ecosystem supporting your dreams. Weaving all these facets together so your business can thrive is an underrated skill. Entrepreneurs who do it well aren’t just great at running a business; they’re experts at building new relationships with the right people.

In this episode of Brilliant Thoughts, SUCCESS People Editor Tristan Ahumada talks to Carter Reum, co-founder of M13 Ventures, about how strong relationships underpin successful businesses. They discuss the types of people entrepreneurs need to know and how to connect with investors and other game-changers in your industry.

You’ve probably heard more than one entrepreneur attribute their success to strong relationships. Here’s why they’re absolutely right.

A good relationship can guide you to better business decisions.

Personal development legend Jim Rohn once said, “You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” He’s right. Our closest family, friends, and co-workers influence us more than we think. That’s why choosing the right people to grow beside comes down to one question: Will those supporters challenge you or push you toward complacency?

It feels good when people agree with you and praise your ideas. But when you’re building a business, honest feedback is even better. Get rid of all the “yes” people in your life and surround yourself with authentic supporters—people who aren’t afraid to tell you the truth. That exposes you to new perspectives and better ways to grow.

Think of it like the Facebook algorithm. With the help of machine learning, the platform collects data on billions of users. Then it studies all the information and tries to serve meaningful content to everyone. The algorithm doesn’t always get it right, but that’s OK. It never stops learning and improving, and that’s the mindset Reum believes every entrepreneur should have. 

“It’s having a receptivity to different data points, which includes different opinions and vantage points, and then it’s updating your opinions and thoughts because you have a constant desire to get better and make the best decision,” Reum says. 

That’s why knowing whom to connect with (and why) is essential. If your professional network is just an echo chamber for your beliefs, you won’t have enough thought diversity to make the best decisions.

You attract the best talent (and investors) by inspiring others

As an entrepreneur, sometimes customers aren’t the first group of people you inspire. Before you sell anything, most likely, someone will believe in your mission and support it. That person could end up being your business partner or an investor who sees the magic in your pitch. Either way, building a business is about inspiring people to embrace your dreams. That requires you to build solid relationships and make each connection work for you.

“When we started M13 Ventures, it was nothing more than a vision,” Reum says. “But then we were able to inspire a few people who were really talented to join us on that vision. All of a sudden, it increased our probability that the vision would become a reality. And then, as we started to grow, we started to get more capital because we were able to be good storytellers for the people who were funding us.”

Telling a good story is a must in today’s world. To attract customers, it helps to recreate their deepest fantasy and make them the main character of the story: the hero. Connecting with investors is the same process. You’re still weaving a fantasy, but the people you’re inspiring have a significant stake in your business, unlike most customers.

To connect with investors and win them over, Reum has two suggestions:

  1. Clearly articulate what you want to accomplish in your business.
  2. Win their hearts and their minds.

“Too many people either focus on hearts, or they focus on minds, and they forget that you’re trying to win both…. You need to make them feel emotionally invested and excited,” Reum says.

That means going beyond the numbers and the technical details of your business. Almost every industry is saturated. Investors want to know what your superpower is. Do you have an outsized advantage in the market? Explain what that leverage is, and you’re on your way to a beneficial relationship.

When all else fails, sit back and listen. You can make new connections by absorbing information, particularly the pain points people have. That’s why Reum recommends setting up fundraising meetings to identify what’s important to investors. Are they asking you specific questions, such as, “How big is the market for this product?” If so, pay attention to those subtle concerns. They are the key to connecting and persuading, which helps you establish powerful relationships for your business.

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Author: Doc JW