Business relationships are key to success

Hayley Williams is the owner of Keystone in St Neots.

Hayley Williams is the owner of Keystone in St Neots and will soon celebrate her eighth anniversary. - Credit: HAYLEY WILLIAMS

This July, it will mark eight years since I officially launched my business, Keystone.

Every time the anniversary date rolls around, I always think back to those first thoughts, feelings and experiences on day one, when I sat at my desk in the study and said 'right then, here we go''. 

Like many small business owners before and after me, I started with a clear idea and a deep determination, but no clients. No brand awareness. No reputation.

I often think back to that first day in the study and then look at where we are now. Those clear ideas and that deep determination are still part of our make-up, but now we have a strong reputation to support us too.

I’ve undertaken some mapping recently, to look at our current and past client list and to pinpoint how they initially came to our door. In looking back at how our client base has developed, it’s incredible to see how much of our work has come from recommendations.

We see clients that we secured initially through proactive business development that have since either directly or indirectly introduced us to other clients.

Or clients who were originally recommended to work with us, who have since become our biggest advocates and recommended us to their wider networks.

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And individuals that I formed a personal connection with at networking events in the early days, who’ve become firm business friends as well as referring us to their own clients and partners.

Plus, friends and colleagues of myself and the team more widely who have talked highly of us to others; leading to new commercial relationships.

What binds all of these examples together is positive experience. People's experiences with a business and its team play a huge role in building that business's reputation. And it is that reputation that supports business growth too.

In any service led business, ultimately if you do a good job, people like working with you, and they trust you – they will be happy to recommend you to others when the situation arises. Even if you don’t ask them to.

The latest look at my client list certainly reminds me that past and current business relationships play a huge part in securing new business opportunities for us. I’d say this is a useful exercise for any small business owner – as when you dig deep, you might be amazed where client relationships first stemmed from.