The importance of relationships and of thinking of the business outside of yourself, the business owner, cannot be overstated. Relationship building can be a buzz word, or it can be a source of long-lasting, mutual support and growth.
Good news—when you’re coming up in the business world, there are relationships built into your journey.
- Get on LinkedIn and, starting with friends and classmates from school, start making connections and reaching out to them.
- Reach out to mission-based organizations to learn about brand marketing, digital marketing, financial planning, etc., and maintain contact with those resources and the people running them.
- Start a relationship with your banker before you’ve even applied for a loan. This leads you up through the many levels of financial partnerships until you reach the large banks.
Not many small business owners know this, but lenders come in levels you navigate through, a lot like school. You start small, and work your way up, and all the levels know and feed into each other.
Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) come in different levels from microlenders and economic development institutions, to CDFIs like Lendistry who are supported by banks to do the lending that big banks can’t do in smaller amounts up to $5M. When you grow past that amount, you move on to Small Business Investment Companies (SBICs), which are a step below large banks and loan in amounts from $5M-$25M.
The first few years of a business’s life are spent in the lower levels, but every step of the way, connect with the people behind every resource on LinkedIn and in person to build an “advisory board”.
These resources exist to see small business owners do well, and they are there to help small business owners make and learn from mistakes and grow more resilient. After a while, you’ll have a network of experts in a variety of fields who know you and your journey. You’ll even become a valuable resource to them as well.