Stakeholders give your business practical and financial support. Stakeholders are people interested in your company, ranging from employees to loyal customers and investors. They broaden the pool of people who care about the well-being of your company, making you less alone in your entrepreneurial work. At its best, the relationship between a business and its stakeholders is symbiotic and healthy. At its worst, this relationship hinges on conflicting demands and interests and makes decision-making stressful and slow.
A successful relationship between a business and its stakeholders is built on working together towards common goals. Employees depend on your business for their livelihoods. And if you treat them well, they'll be engaged as a team and a family to go above and beyond their job requirements to further the best interests of your company. If your business provides a product or service that genuinely improves the quality of your customers' lives, they're likely to go to bat for you as well, spreading the word about your offerings because they genuinely want your business to do well. Investors have a financial stake in your company and they certainly want a financial return, but if your interests are aligned and they genuinely care about the work you do, their relationship with your business can go far beyond the desire to make money.
A business with an engaged community of stakeholders will reap financial benefits from these relationships. Employees who care about their work and see it as more than a job will give their best and act as ambassadors for your brand. Customers who believe in your company and your offerings will support you with their long-term business. Vendors who see your business as more than just a sales opportunity will go the extra mile to make sure you have the materials you need to make sales and generate revenue, and they may even extend flexible terms if they know you're struggling financially. Engaged stakeholder investors will help you out with working capital and funds for expansion projects.
Successful Stakeholder Relationships
Successful relationships with stakeholders are essential to your company's success. However, it takes hard work and vision to build these strong liaisons. Whenever possible, work on aligning the interests of your business with those of your stakeholders. Treat your employees well and pay them fairly, so they'll work towards your mutual success. Create the highest quality products you can, so your customers will go the extra mile to help you keep providing them. Cultivate relationships with investors who are more interested in long-term viability than short-term dividends.
Devra Gartenstein founded her first food business in 1987. In 2013 she transformed her most recent venture, a farmers market concession and catering company, into a worker-owned cooperative. She does one-on-one mentoring and consulting focused on entrepreneurship and practical business skills.