22 November 2013, by A. Cedilla
The most basic business-customer relationship is this: you make the product or provide a service, the customer buys it, or pays you to do something for them. Money for tangible goods or service. That’s it, reduced to its simplest terms.
Real-world customer relationships and businesses are definitely more complex than that though, because at the heart of it it’s about people.
Who sources and supplies the materials? Who makes the products? Who sells it, who buys it, who benefits from it all throughout concept to final product?
On the first level you may be working for yourself — you’re running your own online business, or for other people.
You may be working with partners (joint ventures) or with your affiliates, or even be an affiliate.
You may be running a side business while holding down a full-time job reporting to someone higher up. We do what we have to to make it through in these times. You have to support yourself, and maybe-probably the people you care for — which is a whole other sphere of responsibility. Whoa.
Think past the surface of ‘for’ or ‘under’ or ‘to’. See the connections.
The second definition of ‘customer’ currently in Wikipedia is quite appropriate for this discussion, even if it’s colloquial: “(Informal) A person, especially one engaging in some sort of interaction with others. Ex. a cool customer, a tough customer, an ugly customer.”
You engage in some sort of interaction with others, and many of those interactions happen in established relations, business or personal. The people you work with are your co-workers, partners, bosses, managers, subordinates. The people you work with can also include family members (you’re part of a unit, whether spousal and it’s just the two of you, or you’re also a parent, someone’s child, sibling, cousin, in-law, etc.)
Relationships are how we work. Nobody lives in a vacuum. Who do you work with? ID your more important relationships and dig.
- What are your most important relationships business-wise? Personally? The other party is your partner, or your customer, your X-marks-the-spot, your fill-in-the-blank.
- How do you develop and keep the relationship fruitful and healthy? Be specific, choice exhaustion goes both ways.
- You have only this much time, those you work with also have only so much time, where and what do you want to spend it on, to give what you have and get what you want in return?
Look at all the systems you’re a part of, that you are actively involved with. Maybe you’re a part-time student as well as a full-time worker and a parent. Maybe you’re a one-man business and juggling 2 other jobs on the side. Whatever you do, when you’re involved, it’s a relationship. You relate to other people in the context of the system involved, whether it ‘s friends, patrons, customers, relatives, bosses, clients, partners and coworkers.
Who do you work with? Who are the people in your network, that keep your business in business, and keep it running.
Who do you work with? Who are your partners in pushing the work forward?
Who do you work with? Who draws out the best in you, encourages you and inspires you to keep going?
Teaching yourself to see things this way means going from the general to the specific. The more you know about yourself and what you can offer, the more easily others –who are looking for exactly the kind of things that you offer–can find you. You’re no longer generic.
Knowing who you work with asks you to be very clear who you are, in relation to yourself and others. It helps you define things in a helpful way, developing clarity, and attracting other like-minded people. You can form a band, find your tribe, join your community, and all that helps you and your endeavors thrive.
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