Happy New Year Everyone!
Welcome to our first Listen Innovate Grow post for 2018.
We hope that you have had some downtime to relax, recharge and spend time with loved ones and friends.
As it is the beginning of the year, this is an opportune time to think about the growth objectives for your start-up or SME and how they will be achieved.
Here are a few questions to consider:
• Will you seek new customers or aim to grow your current ones?
• Should you enter new markets and/or seek to further penetrate current markets?
• With whom should you consider partnering with to achieve your objectives?
These are just some of the many questions that should be considered. The answers and how you approach them will undoubtedly determine the performance and success of your company.
Answering such strategic questions and making the right decisions, requires that you have a variety of insights and perspectives. You will not be able to gain them on your own. One of the ways to gain such insights is to have a group of people you can call upon to help. You need to have a ‘Circle of Influence’.
What is a Circle of Influence?
In her book, ‘Busy’ Julie Hyde, a leadership expert and business mentor based in Melbourne, Australia describes the Circle of Influence as consisting of “those you trust, confide in and speak to on a regular basis…They are people who have various areas of expertise and experience and who can add to both your strengths as a leader and your business strategy.” (1)
Members of your Circle of Influence will often share and experience similar issues, challenges and objectives that are seldom spoken of at least publicly. They can help each other by confiding and supporting each other, exchanging information and bouncing off ideas.
The Benefits of a Circle of Influence for start-ups and SMEs in B2B
While all managers and leaders can benefit from having a Circle of Influence, it is of particular benefit to leaders within Start-Ups and SMEs due to the following uses and benefits they provide. These include:
• Keeping abreast of industry and market trends
• Sourcing new ideas, insights and opportunities for innovation
• Identifying opportunities for establishing strategic business alliances
As you will see from upcoming posts here at Listen Innovate Grow, industry and market insights, collaboration and innovation are fundamental components that will drive your B2B growth strategy.
You will need to continually revisit them and determine how they can be utilised to meet your objectives. With the world of business constantly changing, your Circle of Influence can help you stay on top of and take advantage of emerging trends and opportunities.
Having a strong Circle of Influence that knows you well can lead your company to opportunities that may not have been otherwise known to you and may help significantly drive the growth of your company. Such opportunities could include:
• Referrals to customers and clients:
o Fact: Studies have shown that referrals are a key driver for B2B lead generation and revenue growth (2)
• Access to Influencers: such as industry experts, bloggers and niche experts that are viewed as trusted sources by B2B buyers
o Fact: 60% of people consider Blogs, Vlogs or other social media posts before considering a purchase (3)
Therefore, it is worth giving strong consideration as to who should be in your Circle of Influence.
Who Should Be in Your Circle of Influence?
Given the complexity, diversity and competitiveness of B2B markets, it is important that your Circle of Influence contain a mix of people with both similar and different skills and experiences that will provide a range of different ideas and perspectives that can assist you in your strategy development and decision making. This should include people:
• With whom you can trust and confide
• Are successful in what they do
• Are from similar industries
• Have different professional backgrounds and experiences
• Come from outside your industry
• Are from different geographies
People that you may wish to consider for your Circle of Influence include:
• Colleagues from prior roles/jobs
• Members of your leadership team
• Individuals at clients/customers that you are or have worked well with
• Fellow owners and managers of other Start-Ups/SMEs
• Colleagues within your industry
It is important to point out that building a Circle of Influence is not a numbers game. It is about having the right kind of people that can assist you with business endeavours and aspirations.
What to Do Next?
1. Think about what you are looking to achieve in 2018 both as a leader as well as for your Start-Up or SME. Where are you challenged or stuck?
2. Assess your current Circle of Influence
a. Who is in this group?
b. Have they been a positive impact and/or influence for you?
c. Do they provide a variety of insights and perspectives to help you as a leader and drive growth?
d. Who else should you consider bringing into your Circle of Influence?
Building an effective Circle of Influence requires patience, authenticity and generosity and may potentially change over time.
Nevertheless, the benefits can help you significantly to take your Start-Up or SME closer to where you ultimately want to be.
Subscribe to Listen Innovate Grow and gain more tips and insights to help your Start-Up or SME drive growth in 2018.
1. Busy: Take Control, Get Relevant and Be an Influential Leader, by Julie Hyde, 2016
2. What You Should Know About B2B Referrals, www.influitive.com
3. The Influencer Marketing Revolution, January 8, 2018, www.marketingprofs.com