“To Be or Not To Be…In Business Together” – Give one tip for balancing accountability & business relationships while avoiding coming across as too “cold” or too “soft”?

To help you balance accountability and business relationships, we asked small business owners and successful entrepreneurs this question for their best insights. From investing in business relationships year-round to being honest and setting clear expectations, there are several recommendations that may help you find the best way to manage accountability within your business relationships.

Here are eight tips for balancing accountability and business relationships:

  • Invest in Business Relationships Year-Round 
  • Develop Customer Service Skills
  • Evaluate Cultural Alignment
  • Be Direct but Never Rude
  • Create an Airtight Contract
  • Keep Emotions at Bay
  • Set Up and Define Consistent Accountability
  • Be Honest and Set Clear Expectations

Invest in Business Relationships Year-Round

Maintaining business relationships is like working on your roof while the sun is still shining. During good times, it helps to build a good rapport with relationships so that when things go south, you’ll have a trusting foundation while you solve the problem together. When you’re weathering a storm, the last thing on your mind is walking on eggshells. Efficiently solving the issue is the thing that will be remembered as your relationship continues and flourishes, not the tone you had on the phone call that one time.

Monte Deere, Kizik

Develop Customer Service Skills

You need to have excellent customer service skills to maintain your reputation in business relationships. If your customer service skills are well-developed, you can convey stability to your partners and patients. The ability to provide timely, responsive answers to questions is important. Also, knowing how to soothe emotions if answers aren’t readily available can go a long way towards keeping positive relationships with those you engage with.

Henry Babichenko, European Denture Center

Evaluate Cultural Alignment

One good way to strike such a balance is to evaluate the cultural alignment of your business relationships. If you knowingly partner with those who aren’t closely aligned with your company’s values, this could come back to bite you down the road. From the outset, try to work with those whose culture aligns with your own. This way, you hopefully avoid any situations that could be detrimental to your image.

Ryan Nouis, TruPath

Be Direct but Never Rude

When it comes to communicating difficult subjects with a business partner, presentation is everything. If you speak harshly to someone, they will always get defensive. The goal should never be to personally attack one another. Instead, recognize that you both want what’s best for the company and communicate in a mature and honest way.

Jae Pak, MD Medical

Create an Airtight Contract

An airtight contract is a great way to avoid all of the difficult nuances of a business relationship. When you’re preparing to do business with someone for the first time, explain to them that you want to get all of the details ironed out beforehand so that there are no misunderstandings later. You can sincerely explain that you want the relationship to be copacetic and smooth. Later on, if an issue arises, refer to that contract and let its terms guide you to the solution. If you have done your job in the beginning, there should be no need to quibble or argue about the details, as it should be plainly laid out in that contract.

Marcus Hutsen, Patriot Coolers

Keep Emotions at Bay

One of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is to balance the need to be accountable and responsible with the need to maintain healthy relationships with your business partners. The best way to do this is by keeping your emotions out of it (which I know can be hard).

When you’re managing a business relationship, it’s important to remember that you’re not just managing a person—you’re managing a person who has their own goals, priorities, and needs. So when you meet with them, try not to get too wrapped up in how they are feeling about what’s happening right now. Rather, focus on talking about what’s going on in the relationship itself: what needs to happen next, who will do what by when and why, etc. This will help keep things moving forward while also keeping everyone in check!

Nick Cotter, Growann

Set Up and Define Consistent Accountability

Establishing and defining consistent accountability is one of the best tips for balancing accountability and business relationships while bypassing coming across as too soft or too cold. It should be established clearly from the beginning. It must be consistent as accountability is tied to productivity, and higher productivity leads to success. As long as accountability is precisely understood and highlighted by all, empathy and maintaining a top-notch business relationship must not be a challenge. It is when accountability isn’t defined or consistent that weighing up the two becomes off-balance and muddled. 

Shivanshi Srivastava, PaydayLoansUK

Be Honest and Set Clear Expectations

When going into business with family, friends, or anyone, I find that being upfront about your expectations and giving honest feedback will get you much better results in your business relationships. I run Walk Big Media with my wife, Stacie Tyler and we find the best results are achieved when everyone knows what is expected of them, including ourselves. Our team also holds us accountable to our goals for our business, so when we have team meetings everyone gets a chance to give honest and clear feedback, without worrying about coming across too harshly.

Josh Tyler, Walk Big Media

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