Many people who are self-employed sole traders are all too aware of the importance of cultivating good relationships with others. They learn over time the value of establishing good, working synergies with other sole traders, of taking time to share, co-operate and respect each other.
Here are some reasons why it’s important for sole traders to look after their relationships with others:
– Rarely does a sole trader have all the answers to all the problems and situations they encounter along the way. It’s usually the case that they are experts in their own field with limited knowledge in other areas. Establishing relationships and contacts with people who can occasionally be approached for help is an important key to survival. And even discussing problems with others often provides some relief and a welcome reassurance that others also have their struggles.
– Be generous. Looking after our relationships means being prepared to recommend another person for a job if they are better suited. This is an important way of establishing ourselves as a person of integrity and also as someone who has good contacts, prepared and able to recommend the best person for the job. Colleagues will be happy to reciprocate and clients will be happy to return.
– Build alliances with people in complementary fields. There are some trades that require access to associated skills in order to complete their tasks; building work is an obvious example where skilled workmen frequently cross refer. Equally many complementary therapies often successfully work alongside each other; wedding planners, florists, caterers and outfitters form excellent referral bases from which to effectively support each other and grow. Building good alliances allows an individual business to offer a wider range of services and appear more effective, efficient and professional.
– Network and be higher profile. This is a great and often inexpensive way of circulating and letting people see you, talk to you, discover what you do and hopefully decide to add you to their database of contacts. Networking is about getting to know, like and trust each other. It is a shortcut to building good relationships with other people in business, gaining access to their skills and hopefully becoming someone others will recommend to their personal contacts. Regular networking and subsequent follow-ups over coffee help to keep you at the forefront of their mind.
– Take care of your personal relationships, friendships and home life. Often self-employed people are only too aware of the need to work long and hard when they have an outstanding piece of work. They appreciate the need to be readily available, fast, efficient and reasonably priced so will often work long hours to deliver a good piece of work quickly. Personal life may have to be put on hold if there’s an emergency situation, but sometimes it’s important to insist on time for family, friends and home. Those relationships can start to suffer if people feel neglected or secondary to work; then everyone loses out. It may be a worthwhile solution to occasionally look to outside contacts for support.
– Look after your relationship with yourself too. Pay attention to healthy eating, food breaks, drinking less coffee and more water, exercise, the quality of your sleep. Learn to say ‘no’ if a client is being unreasonable or placing excessive demands on your time and goodwill. Schedule in some things you want to do just for yourself. It may be an interest or hobby that is important, some quiet time for a walk in the country or on a beach. Manage stress by allowing regular breaks in your diary for yourself. And respect those breaks, be sure to keep them, just like you would if you had made an appointment with a valuable, important client!
Susan Leigh is a Counsellor and Hypnotherapist who works with stressed individuals to promote confidence and self belief, with couples experiencing relationship difficulties to improve communications and understanding and with business clients to support the health and motivation levels of individuals and teams.
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