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  • Writer's pictureTerry Fisher

Building Business Development Success Through Relationships

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

investor and NED Terry Fisher smiling with pink and white text over the top of the image stating Buidling Success Through Relationships

In the fast-paced world of business and investments, the concept of success often boils down to numbers, strategies, and bottom lines. However, for those of us who have ventured into the realm of scale-ups and the entrepreneurial world, there are some things that are more powerful than just spreadsheets and financial forecasts; the power of personal relationships.

While numbers and business development plans are undoubtedly crucial in the world of investments, there's another aspect that often goes underappreciated – the value of personal relationships. And that is the area that I usually like to focus my time and attention on as an Angel Investor. Some of the most successful investors understand that it's not just about the numerics of a business plan; it's about the people behind the numbers.

For someone who thrives on personal connections, diving into the intricacies of a business plan may not be the first step. Instead, it's about reading the plan, but more importantly, it's about engaging with the individuals driving the business. A face-to-face meeting, a genuine conversation, and the ability to look someone in the eye can provide insights that no spreadsheet can match.

Investment decisions, in this context, are not solely based on facts and stats. Instead, they are based on trust, belief, and a sense of partnership. When I entrust someone with my capital, it's not just a financial transaction; it's a commitment to believe in the opportunity and the people behind it.

However, all that said, you absolutely do need to be very focused on what the available data and info is showing you; even if that particular part of the investment process is not the thing that ‘lights you up’!

This is exactly why I have people around me who have clarity in areas where I may have a blind spot. Take one of my investment partners Jason for example. If I offered him the chance to spend 12 hours devouring a P&L or come for lunch with a founder I know which option he would choose… by the way, the data ALWAYS wins with Jason!

For me, this is one of the factors that really helps successful people thrive; the ability to know your strengths and weaknesses.

Even using the word ‘weakness’ might upset a few people reading this, but I really do think you need to utilise self-awareness to positively call yourself out on what you excel in and what you don’t. Knowing where you need assistance in itself is a great strength.

Sometimes, there is this perception that you have to know all the answers, but that just isn’t always going to be the case. Especially once you start to really scale up your endeavours. A lot of leaders of big businesses that I work with or consult to will often share that they are at a crossroads in a decision and I always suggest that they get their best people around the table to ensure there is a cohesive plan for next steps that a majority agree with.

When I was the CEO of Thomas Cook, I built an incredible team around me; yes, ultimately, it was my head on the chopping block when it came to all decisions, but I made those decisions with the confidence that a C-Suite team of people I hugely respected - and knew had the company’s best interested at heart - had helped me to make. (There were a few rare occasions where I chose to ignore every single board member, but I’ll save that story for another day!)

So, let's say you have people skills on one side and then data on the other, there is still something almost intangible that now comes into play and that is intuition. It's that intuitive sense that tells you whether an opportunity is worth pursuing or not. The ability to gauge the sincerity, commitment, and passion of the people involved is an invaluable skill.

Creating a business plan is one thing, but building trust is another. Trust, in the world of investments, is the currency that matters most - to me anyway. Anyone can craft a business plan to make numbers look appealing, but when you trust someone with your money, it's a testament to your belief in their ability to deliver.

In the world of investments - and every other form of business for that matter - people with complementary strengths can be a formidable force. Collaboration between individuals with different approaches and focuses can lead to well-rounded business decisions. When differing approaches converge, you can get a holistic view of an opportunity… and I hate the phrase holistic, but it seems apt for this article!

P.S. If you are reading this as a scale-up business owner or an entrepreneur looking to attract investment, here's a key takeaway for you: Never underestimate the power of building personal relationships with potential investors. While your business plan and financial projections are essential, it's equally crucial to connect on a personal level too.

Investors are not always just looking at your numbers; they're evaluating you as a partner. Be genuine, passionate, and sincere in your interactions. Invest time in building relationships, not just pitching your business. Trust is the cornerstone of successful investments.

For me, when it comes to investments, it's not just about the money; it's about the people. When you get the people part right, the money comes as a byproduct.

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