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You won’t learn this at business school

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Over the span of my last few companies I have learnt that managing for success cannot always be learnt from a book. This might seem obvious to some but we all fall back on text book strategies when things get tough. Here are some of the things they don’t teach you at business school:

  1. Forgive your enemies: Not every client, employee or vendor is going to love you. Sometimes business relationships don’t work out. There is a tendency to carry anger and bitterness about these relationships. My experience is that letting them go and moving on makes more sense.
  2. Let go of clients that drain you: In the same vein, there are some clients that are just so much work you find yourself physically and mentally drained every time you talk to them. In almost all cases it’s best to let them go so you can give your best to the clients that really matter.
  3. Focus most of your energy on existing clients: There is a lot of business mythology around the ‘new business sale’. Existing clients are generally much more profitable and easier to grow. Don’t be distracted by aggressive sales strategies that target strangers. Focus on your existing clients and the referrals will follow very soon.
  4. Build long term plans with your clients: Your clients actually like it when you plan ahead with them. It gives them the confidence that this is a long term partnership. Take a calendar to your meetings and discuss what seasonal work you can do for them throughout the year.
  5. Create learning opportunities for clients: Your clients employ you because you are the expert. Invest time in teaching them what you know and they’ll respect you even more. I’ve heard it said by many a consultant that keeping your clients in the dark is the best way to have them dependent on you. I couldn’t disagree more. Sharing knowledge with your clients raises the quality of the relationship and makes it stronger.

Author Richard Banfield

As CEO, Richard leads Fresh Tilled Soil’s strategic vision. He’s a mentor at TechStars and BluePrintHealth, an advisor and lecturer at the Boston Startup School, and serves on the executive committees of TEDxBoston, the AdClub’s Edge Conference, and Boston Regional Entrepreneurship Week.

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