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Grow your network and stop struggling in business

“The richest people in the world look for and build networks. Others look for work.” — Robert Kiyosaki

SME’s Chat with Phillip Chichoni

A young man came to see me last week. He had just won a very lucrative contract to provide some services to a certain local organisation.

However, there was one challenge: he didn’t have the working capital needed for him to begin working.

He needed about US$200 to print some stationery and cover basic operating costs.

The opportunity he had been fortunate to get risked slipping away because no-one was willing to lend him US$200 to enable him to get off the ground. His was not a unique situation.

Ask any young person who is dreaming of getting into business about what is stopping them. The most likely answer is they don’t have the basic capital for starting-up. Unfortunately, banks and other institutions are not able to lend to risky new businesses, especially if the entrepreneur is young and inexperienced.

Does that mean all the people we are seeing starting successful businesses had to save start-up money first? No. The majority of new entrepreneurs who don’t have their own starting capital receive some help from family, friends and acquaintances. Not all of us have rich relatives and friends, but there are other people who have the resources to help us, only that we don’t know them. This is where networking comes in.

The average person knows about 200 people closely. How many of the people you know are able and willing to help you in building and growing your business? Probably very few, and sometimes, like in the case of the young man I mentioned earlier, none. Why is that? It is because we are not actively growing our network of useful people who can help us in business.

If you ask any successful entrepreneur, they will tell you that building a business without the help of other people is an extremely tough task. Other people can help us, directly or indirectly, with essential business advice, finding customers, linking with suppliers, getting finance and so on.

If you are finding it difficult to start or grow your business, it is most likelybecause you don’t know enough people. If you are a young person, you should start building your network while you are still at school. As you go through college or university, keep on adding more people to your Rolodex.

Entrepreneur and best selling author of the book Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive, Harvey MacKay, said he began taking down details of every person he met since he was 21.

When he took his book to the publishers, they were not interested in printing 100 000 copies because he was a new and unknown author. After opening two large cases with thousands of cards of the people he knew, the publishers agreed to print. The book went on to become a best-seller, with millions of copies being bought. All this because Harvey made it a point to make everyone he met a contact.

You will go different ways with your mates and other people you meet as you grow, but some day you shall need each other’s help. If your Rolodex is big enough, you will not struggle to find someone you know who can and is willing to help you when you need a kick-start.

Relationship building is important because business is all about humanity. People do business with people they know, like and trust.

Take time and put your effort into building relationships and

trust with people in your network. This starts with you giving first. Acclaimed master salesperson Zig Ziglar rightly said: “You can get anything you want in life if you give enough people what they want.”

When you hear of somebody seeking a product or service which someone in your network can supply, why not make a referral? That is one of the reasons I set up SME BusinessLink Network, in order to provide a platform for sharing insights, resources and opportunities.

Any entrepreneur or person thinking of starting a business can join. I especially want to see more young people participating; for that reason I am giving away three tickets to the next breakfast meeting on Friday April 12. Like the SME BusinessLink page on Facebook and you could win a ticket.

Until next week, best wishes in accelerating your growth.
Phillip Chichoni is a strategic business planning consultant who works with entrepreneurs and growing businesses.

You may contact him by email on chichonip@smebusinesslink.com, or visit http://smebusinesslink.com.

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