Question: What do you think is the lifeblood of entrepreneurship?
Answer: Entrepreneurship is comprised of a great many elements. Creativity, vision, patience, perseverance, capital and integrity are some of the more prominent components. But in my opinion, the lifeblood of entrepreneurship is the building of relationships.
We’ve all heard about how important relationships are but at times I’m not sure that we truly comprehend their vital nature – both as entrepreneurs and as human beings. Early in our business lives many of us are out to “prove something.” We want to make sure that we are perceived as worthy or serious. And at times we may not work as hard to build relationships as we could.
For many years, we had in our family of companies, a commercial real estate leasing and brokerage unit. We leased and sold office buildings, shopping centers, industrial facilities and other commercial properties. The art of building relationships was something we constantly preached and several of our salespeople were receptive to this. Many were not. Those that didn’t buy-in were focused on the transaction. They would make or receive a call to or from someone interested in a property. After some discussion if the prospect wasn’t interested in a property these salespeople would move on to work on another prospect. Other more enlightened salespeople sought to become better acquainted with the prospect, maintained contact and found ways to help that individual even if no transaction was imminent. It was these salespeople who ultimately were able to be the most successful.
Building relationships requires an investment on our part. It is an investment of ourselves in other people. Perhaps that investment takes the form of time, money or emotion. Building relationships does not focus on transactions. Instead it focuses on finding opportunities to genuinely serve others. And we’re not doing so with any expectation of receiving something immediately in return. We serve because it’s the right thing to do. When we do focus on gaining a quid pro quo we often find that the relationship we are trying to establish lacks loyalty – in both directions. Do we hope that the day may come that the person with whom we have a relationship will serve us in some way – i.e. a transaction? Sure, there’s nothing wrong with thinking this, but only because it’s the way the world works.
We can be most successful when we build relationships with others where there is no scorecard. When we have this mindset the game will be won by both parties.
This blog is being written in tandem with my book, “An Entrepreneur’s Words to Live By,” available on Amazon.com in paperback and Kindle (My Book), as well as being available in all of the other major eBook formats.