You may be asking what social work and running a successful business have in common. On the surface one could easily argue – absolutely nothing. However, when we look a little deeper there are a huge amount of lessons that can be learned from a profession designed to help those in need. Over 10 years I perfected my skills as a social worker and throughout that time I ran businesses on the side in a variety of areas. The natural desire in me to genuinely help those in need drew me to social work to begin with, however it was this desire to help people that also ultimately drew me to my business and my intense desire to help business owners build massive incomes beyond their expectations. So here are some of the major lessons that I learned.
- Business is about helping people
Throughout our time mentoring and coaching business owners, the most important aspect to our success has been the genuineness about wanting to help business owners. Each of our team has a dedicated heart to genuinely help others and this is reflected in our work. For those who are currently coaches or mentors, this is where your passion MUST start. If you do not have the passion to help others and a genuine desire to love and care for your clients, then this will reflect in your work and ultimately in your business growth and income. Business that sustain success over long periods of time do so because they put their clients and their results first and ensure their clients success. This provides word of mouth referrals due to very satisfied customers.
Helping people in your business can take many different forms and it will depend on the industry you are in. Helping people does not necessarily mean you do work for free for everyone (however doing a small amount for free for select customers can be a great thing). It means having a genuine desire to truly help the customer find the solution they need with your product or service. Your commitment to them will be obvious and when we have a genuine desire to help the customer, we often go above and beyond in a loving and caring way because you genuinely want to assist the customer in finding their solution or reaching their goal. In other words, those in business who truly want to help stand out like a beacon next to those in business just trying to make money or pay the bills. In the end if you don’t like what you do as a business, then perhaps it’s time to question the direction of the business or if you should be in that particular business anymore.
- Business is about building relationships
To truly build a successful business, you must be prepared to build relationships with your clients and maintain these relationships long term. The clients need to know that you are invested in their future and their business and not just in your own profit. One of the most effective ways to start building rapport with a client to begin with is to give something of yourself or your business in order to give the client an immediate result. This begins the process of trust for the client. A great deal of clients may require you to hold their hand through a difficult process or a new direction and in doing this you build the relationship step by step.
Let’s take a clinical example – a counsellor or psychologist seeing a client for the first time. In the initial meeting, it’s about getting to know the client, who they are, what they do, a little about themselves, their work and their family. Then a little about the problem they are having or what has brought them to the counsellor in the first place. Now it would be very rare for the client to spill their life out all over the floor in the first meeting. The client needs the relationship to be established and built upon. The client needs to feel that they can trust the counsellor to hold the trauma with them and walk with them through this journey. They need the relationship to be built before they can truly divulge all the problems that need to be resolved or the solutions they desperately seek.
Now this may be a very specific example – but the principles are no different for any business. I realise that if you own a hardware store, the customer may not be there for a chat and may just want that hammer, but asking how their day is, introducing yourself to the customer and letting them know that if they need any help you are right there, goes a long way to building even a small relationship and setting yourself aside from the teenager working at Bunnings who just wants to earn some cash.
On average it takes around seven times of a customer being exposed to your business in some way before they buy. So make each of those seven interactions count. Make the customer feel like they are valued, feel that you genuinely want to know the solution that they need and that you are there and really want to help them find that answer. They will then happily pay you for the service because they think you care.
- Business is about willing to be vulnerable
I realise this point is one that some business owners may disagree with because they feel that they need to be seen as the authority in order for customers to use them. I don’t disagree with the desire to be the authority, but for an authority to be relatable, they also have to be prepared not to be seen as an impenetrable perfect person with no dents in their armour. They need to be seen as human, flawed and relatable in order for the customer to want to use them.
I have seen some recent business coaches, who claim to know it all, have all the answers for their particular industry and promote themselves as the go to figure for those who want to grow. The problem is that they refuse to allow themselves to look at any of their flaws, discuss any failures in the past, or concede that they make mistakes just like any other human. As a result, they struggle to obtain long term business. Why? Because they are not relatable. If the customer cannot see parts of their journey in yours, then there is no common ground, no appeal and no heart string that is being pulled that says “this person understands me, they have been where I have been”. So be prepared to be vulnerable. Discuss your failings, talk about your biggest failures, talk about struggles, show that you are just human. The show them how you grew through those struggles and how the client can as well. Only with relatability with you engage on an emotional level with a client. Once you engage emotionally, the client becomes much more relaxed about you, your product and service and the trust has been built enough for them to want you to be the source of change for them.
There are many other lessons and points I could write here, but perhaps we will save that for another article. The point here is that business is all about relationships and trust. Between you and the customer. You may make money and have a successful business from trying to do things other ways, but I doubt the longevity of such models could ever match a business owners genuine desire to help their clients.