You may think because you don’t have staff or work colleagues, people skills is not an area that is important for you. Before you rush off to ring your client, check an order with a supplier or call the bank manager, perhaps you could take stock of all the people who you deal with everyday.
As a soloist, the relationships you have with clients, suppliers, contractors, agencies or government departments could make or break your business.
Here are some recommendations about what you can do to improve your people skills and build a sustainable business.
Building the social capital of your business begins with you
Create healthy, sustainable practices for your own well-being
Are you continually burning the midnight oil? Are you looking after your work-life balance? Are you eating well and exercising or are you sitting in front of a computer for 12 hours before collapsing in front of the TV?
Enjoy what you do
It’s now obvious that happiness not only affects your mood but also your health and your relationships. Do you still get the same kick out of your work as you did when you started?
Work to your potential
What are you really capable of? Instead of doing the minimum to get by, give yourself the opportunity to increase your knowledge and skills to meet this potential.
Create products and services that enhance life
When you look at what your clients ultimately gain from using your product or service, is it something that enhances their life or does it create short-term gain with long-term pain? Choose to be part of the solution to people’s problems rather than creating more.
Give back to your community
Business success comes through your own efforts combined with the actions of others who champion, refer to and recommend you. Contributing to your community shares your success and acknowledges the roles of others. Donate, volunteer, offer a sliding scale or create opportunities for others. If you would like to read more on this topic, see Karen Morris’s article on why community involvement is important.
When we look after ourselves, create an environment where we can work at our best and actively contribute to our communities, we are developing our greatest resource.
Want more articles like this? Check out the social responsibility section.
Treat others how would like to be treated
When we begin applying the golden rule of treating others how we would like to be treated then creating sustainable relationships becomes attainable.
Treat all your business contacts with respect and fairness
Do you treat high end clients differently from pro-bono clients? Do you expect your suppliers to drop everything after hours to meet your needs? Are your sales and marketing practices empowering or fear-based?
Say thank you
Thank you is such a simple gesture that rarely gets used in business. When you are impressed with a supplier, thank them. You will stand out.
Support your local business owners
While we all want to maximise profits, often we guarantee future business by working with those who we can build relationships with. Not only are you helping to build your local economic community but when your type of service is required you will be the first one called.
Cross the cultural, gender and creed barriers
Step outside of only engaging the services of those who are similar to you. Enrich your life and business by meeting people you wouldn’t normally come into contact with. Sometimes a different perspective is a very good thing.
How important do you think people skills are to creating a sustainable business? Who are your people and how do you treat them? How do you expect to be treated by others in business?
How you treat your People is the second P in assessing your business with a triple bottom line. The first P looks at the impact your business has on the Planet – see my previous article on seven ways to create a sustainable business.
Next we will look at the third P, Profits, and how they can be achieved in a sustainable business.