Business is all about relationships. In the rush to get something done, small business owners often find themselves with less then perfect outcomes. Too often I hear the complaints and laments of clients because doing business with a vendor, independent contractor or performing the work themselves required accountability on both sides but somehow got overlooked. Relationships are built on trust, trust is built when commitments are fulfilled to the satisfaction of all parties. Creating the agreements that go with the commitments is a fundamental skill. Unfortunately, most people have never learned how to articulate their desired results.

Recently a client of mine decided to hire a public relations professional. Three people were being considered for the project. I was invited to sit in on one of the interviews. The PR contractor spoke only in very general terms, used the daily news to see where my client might be able to “fit” in and could make no commitments for positioning the client. The result was, my client moved on to the next 2 people.

The contractor hired presented a complete PR program outlining areas she would pursue and what my client needed to do to support the program. Together they developed a document accepting full responsibility for performing the required work and achieving results. With the agreement in place my client has a roadmap for things to go right.

In all of our business relationships we hire people or are hired to perform a service or deliver a finished product. Usually the cause of challenges is a lack of clear agreement; agreement of the work to be done and the results to be achieved.

In my experience I find small business owners are so eager to make the sale or get the work done, that they do not take time to do the due diligence. Important for creating relationships that work:

  1. Decide what the Goal and end result will be.
  2. Agree on When it is to be done.
  3. Agree on How it will be done.
  4. Be prepared to resolve any issues that arise

When you have policies in place and are consistent in how you work, business grows because people know what to expect from you and trust you to fulfill your commitments.

The Challenge: Review your own policies and procedures, make sure they are clear and visible to your customers and before hiring an outside company use that same criteria for choosing them.