How Building Relationships Helped Build My Business
When Anne Marie Berger started ForeFront Corp. two decades ago, it was a one-woman business and she thought she'd keep it that way. But Berger soon learned that building relationships with customers and colleagues was key to running a prospering company.
Today, ForeFront Corp.—which provides data management, integration, and mapping solutions to businesses—has more than 50 employees in Fair Haven, N.J. and Berger has worked hard to make relationship building a key tenet of her company's culture.
Here are three lessons she's learned while building her business from a one-woman startup to a thriving global technology consultancy.
1. Listen to your clients.
Working in the tech space means constantly changing, says Berger, who has evolved her business focus over the past 20 years as new technologies have emerged and her clients' needs have changed.
"We listen to our clients, find the right technologies, and build solutions for them," Berger explains. "Listening closely to your clients is something you should never stop doing."
2. Let go of the reins.
A big part of building successful relationships in the workplace is hiring the right people, but even more important—and often more challenging—is being able to surrender control over every aspect of the business. "Nobody else can do it your way and letting go of the reins is hard," Berger says. "Trusting and allowing people to fail a little bit is important."
Learning how to coach and inspire employees rather than micromanaging their every move has been crucial to this success. "You've got to take a leap of faith bringing in other people and teaching them how to grow," she says.
3. Remember to be DRIVEN.
Explicitly spelling out her company’s values is an important key to ForeFront’s success, Berger says. There are six key components to the relationship-focused culture Berger practices at ForeFront:
D – Determination to get things done.
R – Respect for yourself and your partners.
I – Integrity.
V – Versatility, or the ability to go into a meeting listening and not assume you have the answers.
E – Esprit de corps, a one-for-all-all-for-one mentality is crucial. It's all about teamwork.
N – Nurturing relationships, not just with employees, but also with partners and clients.
Nurturing relationships has made it possible to grow her business in ways Berger never thought possible before. Working with banking partner PNC has given ForeFront access to resources and funding to expand the company's Fair Haven offices. "For us, that expansion instills a lot of confidence in the business," she says. "We couldn’t have done it without a relationship with PNC founded on trust and exceptional service."
Her banking team’s hands-on support and willingness to find solutions for her team’s needs has been key in pushing ForeFront forward, she says.
This article is for general information purposes only and is not intended to provide legal, tax, accounting or financial advice. PNC urges readers to do independent research and to consult with financial and legal professioanls before making any financial decisions.
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