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Pearls of Wisdom

5th December 2011 By Valerie Jarrett in Business advice

Having recently renewed and increased my SFEDI (small firms enterprise development initiative) accreditation I have been heavily reminded of, not only my responsibility to clients to give them good quality advice and guidance, but also it has been a good reminder for me about various aspects of business.

As a young child I often remember hearing my father talking about his business – he was a builder and a very good quality builder too (okay so I am biased, but he was very good). He often had people asking him for work – if he was not able to give them work he always tried to give some form of guidance. His advice was often things like ‘go and see Fred’ or ‘pop in the pub and see John’. This sounds all fine but it is basically no different today but we simply call it different things.
Going to see Fred would be the same today as asking a partner to refer work to us or popping in the pub to see John would be the same today as attending a networking meeting – say a business breakfast or similar. My father knew all these things and did them without thinking. He had many contacts in the trade; he met with others on a regular basis – sometimes at the pub and sometimes at the merchants when picking up stock. He knew who his clients were – he largely dealt with one off builds, large size homes but on occasion he would take on larger projects and he never built on spec. Everything he built was requested and sold before he built it.
He surrounded himself with the people related to his business – some would call it a ‘power circle’. He always seemed to be at ‘the agents’ (that was the Estate Agent), the ‘planners’ (that could be the architect or the local authority planning department), the bank (nothing changes then) and the accountant (good move Dad).

When I started in business in 1992 I did not particularly need any more pearls of wisdom – I had heard them all whilst growing up but I did have to relate them to my business. I took on board many things one of which was – surround yourself with the right people. I had great suppliers and negotiated fantastic deals, I had wonderful staff most of whom remained with me for over a decade (they were well looked after and appreciated and they enjoyed their work). I had good customers and on occasion would not entertain difficult customers as they did not add to the quality or profit of my business. Along with all this I continued a good relationship (most of the time) with my bank manager (even with the changes of manager) and last but by no means least my accountant. This guy was, to me, a key part of my business – he guided me when required and was always there to advise (thanks Bill – I learnt a lot from you). I also managed to gain a rubbish landlord and it cost me dearly in time, effort and several solicitors meetings to get him to keep his part of the deal.

My point is in business (and in life) it is so very important to surround yourself with the right people and it can be the difference between running a business with ease or having hard and difficult times (which you will have anyway). I speak to many business people who do not know their bank manager, barely have a discussion with their accountant and do not understand that they need other people to surround them.

I sold my business in 2005 and joined Foundation East. They have always tried to ensure a lasting strong relationship with their clients and this has historically proved beneficial to all on many occasions when clients have turned to us in times of difficulty.

If you do not talk to people maybe today is the day to go out and talk – to your suppliers, your clients, your bank manager and your accountant to name but a few. It makes a big difference to put a face to the name.

Valerie Jarrett, Business Loans Manager

  • About the Author
    Valerie Jarrett

    Valerie Jarrett

    Business Loans Manager for Norfolk and Suffolk