By Cheryl Benadie

You’ve heard the saying that you become the average of the five closest people to you. It’s true that the people that you align yourself with will directly affect the success of your business. Once you take the road less travelled of entrepreneurship, your relationship needs will change.

Think of the relationships in your life depicted as circles on a dart board.

The bullseye represents your relationship with yourself. You are the leadership lid on your life and in your business. For your business to grow, you need to keep growing your level of self-awareness.

You will need to become more intentional about who has access to your time and energy and which relationships need to be shifted to the periphery to enable you to move forward with your business.

Conduct a relationship audit

Pursuing your passion looks romantic on the outside. But once you’ve made the commitment, you start to realise how much time, energy and attention you need to invest to create long term success. Now you have to choose between social time and business building time (which, let’s be honest, feels like it’s constant because you never stop thinking about ways to grow the business).

The people that form your inner circle may or may not understand your shift in focus. You may find that while they support you in principle, they are unable to help you navigate the turbulent emotions that are inherent in the entrepreneurial journey.

One of the tools we use in our relationship management workshops is helping people conduct a relationship audit. In order to do this, you need to:

  1. Categorise your relationships as high, medium and low investment:
    • In a journal, write down the names of the five closest people to you. These are your high investment relationships and can include colleagues, family or friends.
    • Medium investment relationships make up the second tier and can include people that are your clients, peers, extended family members, etc.
    • Finally, your low investment relationships are going to be those people that have been a constant source of negativity in your life. It might be close family members, or a friendship that you’ve had since high school. A sense of duty or obligation is the only reason why they remain in your life.
  2. Assess the level of energy you need to expend when you are with them:
    • With each name, close your eyes and picture yourself meeting them for a coffee. Are you excited about the prospect of spending time with them, or do you feel a sense of dread? When you say goodbye to leave, are you feeling energised or drained?
    • Place a plus next to their name if they are adding to your energy and a minus next to their name if they drain your energy.
  3. Create a relationship plan:
    • Think of ways that you can limit time with the people who drain your energy and prioritise time with the people who feed your energy.
    • Are there relational gaps in your current circle? You might have people that you enjoy spending time with and feed your energy, but they aren’t able to provide emotional or psychological support for your business journey. It isn’t fair to expect the people who are in your life currently to understand the passion that you have for your business. If you feel that you are lacking the business support you need, it might be time to broaden your relational circle.

Create a ‘Board of Life’ business support circle

It is vital to the success of your business – and you as a business owner – to create a support circle of people that you trust and can be vulnerable with. They may not be directly involved in growing your business, but they will each have a part to play in growing you.

A ‘board of life’ business support structure should include a mix of high and medium investment relationships.

  • High investment relationships:
    • This should be your core group that creates a safe environment for you to process your challenges, emotions, struggles and achievements.
      • Counsellor/therapist: helps you process any hidden emotional or psychological barriers to your success
      • Business coach: helps you create action plans to move your business forward and will keep you accountable
      • Mentor: this is someone who has known you for a while and is able to provide support and encouragement as you take on new business challenges
      • Best friend: helps you celebrate your successes, calls you out when you are making excuses – and offers you unconditional love and acceptance
    • Medium investment relationships:
      • These are people that are like minded and like passioned individuals that you can potentially collaborate with.
        • Peer group of start-up business owners: you might interact with people in your line of work that understands what you’re trying to do with your business and have a similar mission
        • Acquaintances from networking groups: lockdown restrictions have resulted in an emergence of mastermind groups on Whatsapp that you can join. These will help you connect with like-minded professionals who have similar goals and interests and the resources that are shared are invaluable.

Allow your relationships to evolve as you and your business evolves. Don’t waste your time or energy explaining yourself to people who are not on the same path as you. Love them, release them and focus on what you need to do in order to grow. Relationships are the treasure trove of resources, so be intentional about the relationships in your life – and in your business.

 

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