Thursday, March 12, 2009

Fight, Fight, Fight

I have a weakness for romantic comedies. Actually I love them and will watch them over and over again on Sunday afternoons.

One of my favorites is “You’ve Got Mail” – a late 90’s Nora Ephron classic starring Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks, who play NYC business owners who are unlikely opponents in the highly competitive world of book shops.

Unbeknownst to them, the two protagonists share an insightful and supportive relationship via email and swap business advice online. One of the classic bits of advice from Tom to Meg: “Go to the Mattresses,” since, “It’s not personal, it’s business.”

In this fight-or-flight business climate, many small business owners are going to the mattresses in an effort to save their beds. When perhaps what they should be focusing on is how they can make their business relations more personal.

I think that a major saving grace for many small businesses over the next year will be in the ability to develop the “personal” side of operations. Positive relationships with clients, vendors and investors have always been good business, but in this downsizing economy it is so much more important to stay close. And as a pretty likeable gal who strongly trusts the value of personal relationships, I can’t help but hope this predisposition will be helpful for my business.

This belief was further confirmed this week when I talked - on the phone! – to three individuals who are crucial to the wellbeing of my business. After chit-chatting about this and that before delving in to issues of relevance, all the conversations ended with some added-bonus for my company: crucial advice for a bid proposal, the continuation of much-appreciated free services, and an almost-done deal.

What I’ve always known, but just acutely realized, is that when people like you, they will go the extra step – or mile – to help you succeed. And in this fragile business climate, it can make or break a small business.

I would like to think that if “You’ve Got Mail” was released in 2009, the Tom-to-Meg advice would be something like, “It’s business – make it personal.” And of course that would come right before they realize they are in love with each other.

I say let’s leave going to the mattresses for more exciting things – like good sex and sleeping in on Sundays.


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