Ask any small business person about the challenges they face and at least one of them will be access to capital. In simple terms M-O-N-E-Y. Often no one wants to lend you money when you need it. When you don’t need it, everyone wants to lend you money. Another issue is the paperwork and complexity to apply for loans. When I needed cash to launch my business, I started in a pretty traditional way. I took stacks of paper and went from bank to bank. It was time consuming but I did get the loan. That first loan was under $100,000, typical for small business.

This past week I had two very different interactions that caused me to think about how my business interacts with customers. The two customers have some common characteristics. They are both successful organizations with dedicated staffs and competent CEOs. But there are big differences in the way they work with outside resources. Customer #1 is open to new ideas. If we offer suggestions about how to improve a project they listen. If we advise against a course of action they weigh the advice. Admittedly, they don’t always take it but it is considered.

I grew up in a family business so as you might imagine business was personal. It was also pretty casual. There were no agreements in place. There were no job descriptions and no real understanding about how the partnership would work. It just did.

Today business is much more complicated and would-be entrepreneurs are much smarter about operating agreements and other legal documents needed. But they often miss one of the key elements of success- the personal relationship.

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