When you’re in business, it can sometimes be difficult not to chase the money, especially in the early days…
Whether you’re trying to get hold of the bank to talk about a loan, chasing up unpaid invoices from customers who seem to have vanished off the face of the earth, or juggling your budget for the next quarter, money is often the primary focus for a lot of business owners out there.
We get it!
Without the money coming in, there wouldn’t be a business, which is something that too many business owners find out the hard way.
One quote from a recent conversation we had, however, really stuck out to us as important to highlight.
“We see people as people, not as pound signs…”
In a world of bills, invoices, rent and outgoings, it’s easy to forget that the key detail in business isn’t actually money at all, it’s people…
…and people need to be seen as people, not as pound signs, no matter how hectic things get.
This means that as business owners, we need to put our urgency for ‘getting money’ to one side from time to time, and focus on what is really important – our people.
‘Your people’ are everyone and anyone you come into contact with and have a relationship with as part of your business.
Employees, customers, suppliers.
Oh, and to make it a little more interesting, ‘your people’ are everyone and anyone you come into contact with and a have a relationship with, away from the business too.
Family, friends, your children.
Quite a big group of ‘people’ who need consideration then, but don’t worry, you’ve got this.
When you change your focus to ‘people’ instead of ‘pound signs’, you’re able to put the work in on the things that matter, and ultimately bring the money in as well.
That’s what it’s about, and building and maintaining relationships does not have to ignore the necessity for getting money either.
The two are far from mutually exclusive, you’ll be relieved to hear.
Let’s look at invoicing as an example.
You might be used to firing our invoices left right and centre, at the same time each month, precisely when you really need the money to start landing in your account.
You might be watching your banking app for a deposit, hoping that it arrives in time for an outgoing of an equal (or greater) amount.
You might be chasing the same customer every single time, reminding them that they need to make a payment to avoid charges.
All of these situations and challenges are perfectly normal for business owners of all kinds, but just stop for a moment, and consider the relationships you have with the people, rather than the relationship you have with the pounds and pennies.
Could you work on your relationship with a customer, especially if they are a regular? Maybe you could invest some time and energy into a meeting with them, even if just to update them on the products or services you’re able to offer them.
This is beneficial for you, as you’re able to double down on your offer, hopefully picking up some new business along the way, but it’s also beneficial for the customer, as they see that you’re investing the time and energy into them.
They feel valued.
It might not happen overnight, but if you make this part of your regular processes, you might not be frantically chasing invoices at the same time each month.
You haven’t got the time? You’re far too busy?
OK, fair enough, but really think about this critically.
Are you really too busy to look after the source of your income?
Surely it makes good business sense to get to know your customers. In doing so, you’ll be conducting a little covert market research, as you get to know what makes your customers tick.
We’re not saying you should take every customer out for coffee and cake, but we’re definitely saying that you do have time to get to know your customers.
What about the customers who mistake kindness for weakness, and take advantage of your personable approach?
Listen, we can’t legislate for customers like that. Well, actually, maybe we can.
Sadly, whether you treat them with a personal approach or keep it as ‘strictly business’, customers who ‘take the micky’ will always ‘take the micky…’
Should we change our practices just because of a few bad apples? At Trinity U, we don’t think so, and we believe that it’s much better to lead by example than to sink to someone else’s level.
The nice guy doesn’t always finish last, as long as they know what they’re doing.
With Trinity U, you’ll know what you’re doing.
So, that’s invoices used as an example of how to see people as people and not as pound signs, but there are plenty of others we could have used to illustrate our point.
With your employees and staff, try not to focus solely on what difference they make to your business financially, how much they bring in and how much they cost you. These things are important, but only when considered alongside the type of person they are. What drives them to succeed and what motivates them to care about the ethos and vision of your business?
With your partners and suppliers, do you do as you’d like others to do? Do you pay your invoices on time? Do you take their business seriously? At least as seriously as you expect them to take yours?
It’s not all about money, even when it comes to spending it. Get to know the people behind the companies, and business becomes much easier to do. It’s more enjoyable too.
Finally, and this one might hit home a bit, think about your friends and family, your partners and your children. When you’re reading a bed time story, don’t worry about the email reminders for late payments. When you’re out on a date, don’t talk about the issues you’re having with paying your suppliers.
Yes, these things are important, and we’ll talk about them until the cows come home if we must, in the right place at the right time…
…but, with ‘people’, especially the people in your life who aren’t part of the business, you have to think about people as people and not as pound signs.
Money will come back, time won’t.