While it’s obvious that a commercially successful business needs to depend on a customer base that’s much bigger than personal friends and family, many tend to overlook just how important this intimate circle can be as their business expands.
We’re talking about your siblings, your ex-colleagues, your old secondary school classmates or even your parents’ makan kakis who bought your products or services when you were first testing out the market. Whether they were really interested in what you were selling or just wanted to be nice, these individuals were there to support you and you don’t want to forget them. Here’s how to keep them close.
Cultivate your first group of brand advocates
Every business looks to grow a strong pool of brand advocates and those who supported you when you first started out have the capacity to be your most loyal fans if you treat them right. While they may not have been the actual investors who put a large sum of money behind your name, these friends and family have put time and effort to tell their friends about your business because they care. So always keep them informed of new products or services just a little before everyone else so they feel that bit more special being an “insider” to your business. Nothing quite beats the value of word-of-mouth and this holds true on the social media front; so always let them know just how important their likes or shares of your business’ Facebook posts are, because every engagement really does matter.
Get honest feedback
Certain friends or family members may know you better than you know yourself. Their feedback can be helpful in identifying your personal blind spots as you make plans for your business. It’s important to identify and regularly meet these individuals to update them on what you’re doing and get their thoughts on it. Usually these individuals will be able to provide a fresh and sound perspective to help you refine an even more water-tight strategy for your next step.
Be clear to them about who’s your perfect customer
When you first start out, you’d be happy if anyone bought what you were selling. But as business picks up, you’ll start seeing trends in the demographic of repeat customers. These may differ from whom you initially thought you were targeting, and shrewd business owners know how to pivot and adapt to provide for the demand. In the same way, it’s important that you are clear with your friends on who this customer is so that they can keep an eye out for the right opportunities instead of troubling themselves with connections that don’t fit.
Find possible short-term partnerships
Short-term partnerships are a great way to cross-market your product or service to a totally different group of customers. If you work with friends or family who earnestly want to see it succeed, it generally allows for a more collaborative arrangement. As long as everyone is clear on what they are bringing to the table and neither party makes any actual losses in money, these partnerships are at worst a good learning experience for those involved, and at best, the beginning of a beautiful (and lucrative) business friendship.
Be clear on the professional and personal limits of your friendships
It’s important to remember that these early supporters were your friends and family way before you even became a business owner. Bad business ethics and rash decisions based on emotions can easily cost you these friendships, so it’s best to maintain a clear distinction between your professional and personal relationships with these individuals. If you get the feeling that an early supporter does not seem enthusiastic about helping you grow your business, it’s time to take a moment to figure out if you’re really doing right by them, as a friend or family member.
Find out more ways to build a successful business in Singapore here and find out how QuickBooks Online can help you do just that.