The 5 Undervalued Relationships Needed to Ensure Business Success

Here are five important relationships that are often overlooked but that can make all the difference when it comes to your business's longevity:

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By Christian Lanng • Sep 9, 2014 Originally published Sep 9, 2014

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

We have all heard the heartbreaking statistics about startups: 50 percent (or in some findings more) of businesses fail within their first year and 95 percent fail within the first five years. (Not exactly a ringing endorsement to start a business.) Some people even believe that as we get closer to 2015, the percentage of failed businesses will increase.

While there are many reasons for startup failure, there are some ways to avoid becoming another statistic. One way is forming the right relationships.

The key is to invest early on in the relationships that can help make your company a success. It's common sense, of course, to put time and money into building strong, loyal relationships with your customers and business partners. However, there are five other important relationships that are often overlooked but that can make all the difference when it comes to your business's longevity.

Related: 8 Ways to Optimize Your Network

1. Competitors

You've probably heard the expression "keep your friends close and your enemies closer," and while that applies here to some degree, the truth is that your competitors can play an important role in your company's growth.

For example, if you and two competitors are competing in a niche industry, working together to raise awareness of the market and desire for a specific type of product or service offering could benefit everyone involved. Also, creating professional and mutually beneficial relationships with other industry players can stimulate healthy competition, educate target audiences and grow the overall market.


Employees are the backbone of your business, and its success is dependent on them.

In my experience, if employees feel valued, they achieve greater results. Invest in employees' professional development through onsite and offsite educational opportunities and implement special perks, such as flexible work schedules, catered lunches and offsite team-building exercises. These activities often create happier employees, better teamwork, a positive environment and ultimately less turnover. From a financial perspective, it's less expensive to retain employees than to hire and train new ones.

3. Advisors, mentors and industry influencers

Sometimes the best business advice comes from unexpected people, such as old classmates, childhood friends or former colleagues. Similarly, getting to know industry influencers and people you admire or want to emulate can help you and your business in many different ways -- from enhancing your leadership skills to better understanding the market environment. Any challenge you face or setback you experience will be easier to manage and overcome if you have people to discuss it with, whether you're learning from their past experiences or just need a fresh perspective.

Related: How to Ask Influencers for a Favor (And Actually Get It)

4. Local businesses and community

In today's social world, being involved with other local-business leaders and influencers in your geographic community is key. Yes, business is global, but there are many benefits of having strong community ties. First of all, the more your company is known and respected in your area, the easier time you will have recruiting top talent.

For example, get your company involved in local, non-political causes or events. This kind of exposure creates goodwill and gets people positively talking about your company. Working for the greater good of the community helps you earn respect as a leader. Doing good is good for business.

5. Vendors and suppliers

No business exists in a vacuum. Rather, we are all able to function every day because of a variety of vendors and suppliers that we rely on. Whether you buy from six or 600 companies, these relationships are worth nurturing. Good business partners are hard to find. An unnecessary, long and complex procurement process can rob businesses of time and money. Rather, once you find suppliers that you enjoy working with, be sure to create a mutually beneficial relationship by being respectful of their capabilities as well as paying them on time or early if possible.

As with most things in life, people and businesses prosper because of relationships. The stronger the relationships you have with your staff, professional mentors, local community and even your competition, the more likely you are to find support when you need it and loyalty when it matters. In a best-case scenario, see what you can do to make all of these relationships mutually beneficial to encourage long-term success and satisfaction.

Related: 10 Questions to Consider When Working With a Business Mentor

Christian Lanng

Christian Lanng is the CEO and co-founder of Tradeshift, a global-business platform connecting enterprises with their suppliers and simplifying vendor relationships. 

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