Why are relationships important in life?
How does a good relationship make you feel?
How does a bad relationship make you feel?
Good relationships make us feel safe. They also help us deal with stress. Relationships aren’t only important in your personal life. As a business owner, it is important to develop professional relationships. Professional relationships can help you start and grow your business.
What kinds of relationships should you develop as a business owner?
This section will look at the three most important types of professional relationships: customer; employee; and members of the community.
But first, let’s take a look at what business culture in Canada looks like. Knowledge of how business culture works in Canada can help you develop good business relationships with your customers, employees, and members of the community.
Canada is a diverse country. You are free to show your identity through language, dress, and choice of business. There are some customs in Canadian business culture that you should know about. These customs are examples of the hidden values you learned about in Section 3 of this workbook. Knowledge of these customs can help you develop professional relationships with customers, employees, and members of the community. It is important to understand these customs of business culture so you do not get frustrated.
Read about the basics of business culture below:
- Shake hands and introduce yourself when you meet people
- It is custom for men and women to shake hands with each other. Business associates usually call each other by their first names.
- Being on time for meetings is a requirement. You are on time if you are five minutes early for your meeting.
- Phone if you are going to be late for a meeting. Make a short apology when you get to your meeting.
- Try not to point, tap, or use angry gestures when you have business conversations.
- Speak the same language as everyone in the group. This is important so everyone understands what is being said.
- It is expected that you take your sunglasses off when you speak to someone.
- Turn your cell phone ringer off during meetings. If you expect a call that you can’t miss, turn the ringer on vibrate. Leave quietly if you need to take the call.
- Washing daily and wearing clean clothes to work is an expectation.
- Equality is valued and expected. All genders and all races are included and valued as equal in business.
- “Business casual” means you wear dress pants and a nice shirt. Women may choose to wear a skirt. Men may choose to wear a tie.
- Many people are allergic to perfumes and colognes. Try not to use a lot of perfume or cologne.
- Politeness is expected. Most Canadians say please and thank you more often than other cultures.
- Have a meter between you and the person you are speaking with. Canadians value personal space.
- There is usually a short period of small talk before a meeting starts.
To learn more about Canadian business culture, visit Culture Atlas.
Your customers will keep coming back when you have good customer relationships. Customers who feel they are respected will continue to use your business. In addition to what you already do to make your customers feel respected, below are a few other ideas:
- Talk to your customers and ask for feedback about your business.
- Make it easy for customers to complain. It’s hard, but it’s important to have those conversations.
- Let customers know they can come to you with problems.
- If a customer leaves a negative online review, be sure to reply and make it right for the customer.
- Make sure your customer service is excellent. This will help your customers feel comfortable.
The average business can lose from 20% to 80% of its customers if it doesn’t work on developing good customer relationships.
Employee and Contractor Relationships
Your business may hire employees or contractors as it grows. In Section Four, you read about the differences between employees and contractors. You also learned about the WCB Provincial Agency. The WCB oversees workplace accidents and injury issues.
Immigrants who own an incorporated business are much more likely to create jobs than businesses owned by people who were born in Canada. Source: Statistics Canada.
Let’s now look at some other points for you to think about when you manage employees or contractors.
Who to Hire?
You may be the only employee in your business right now and do everything. As your business grows, you may find you don’t have time to do everything.
For example, many new business owners do their own bookkeeping. This task can take a lot of time as the business grows. Your time as a business owner may be better used networking and generating sales for your company. If your business makes more money, you can hire or contract a parttime bookkeeper to do this task.
Keep a journal of all the activities you perform in the day. Ask yourself if this is a role you would like to continue having as your business grows?
Business owners often hire qualified employees who they know through friends, family and other business associates. Whether you know the applicant or not, it is a good idea to have a formal application and hiring process for your business. Your employees are often the first people your customers meet. It is important you have proper training in place for your employees. You will also be more successful if everyone understands the workplace rules in Saskatchewan.
Saskatchewan Employment Standards oversees the rules and regulations in Saskatchewan that affect employees, including minimum wage and vacation pay. To learn more, visit the Government of Saskatchewan website.
Human Rights in Canada
Everyone in the world is entitled to the same basic human rights. Human rights describe how we expect to be treated as persons. Human rights make sure everyone can have a life of equality, dignity, and respect.
These rights also make sure everyone has a life free from discrimination. Human rights laws protect people. These laws make sure people are not treated badly for reasons such as their race, gender, age, or disability. Human rights are the same for every person.
In Canada, your human rights are protected by provincial, territorial, federal, and international laws. As an employer, you must respect the human rights of your employees.
To learn more about human rights, and how discrimination and harassment are defined in Canada, contact the Canadian Human Rights Commission. The Saskatchewan Human Rights Commission is an independent commission created by the Government of Saskatchewan. The purpose of this commission is to uphold equality and to reduce discrimination. They are responsible for keeping the Government of Saskatchewan informed about human rights issues. They also help Saskatchewanians resolve human rights complaints.
Saskatchewan’s Human Rights Act protects against discrimination based on:
- Ethnic, national or Aboriginal origin
- Sex (including gender or pregnancy)
- Sexual orientation
- Physical or mental disability
- Family or marital status
- Source of income
- Irrational fear of contracting an illness or disease
- Association with groups or individuals or
- Political belief, affiliation, or activity.
The act also says that sexual harassment is against the law in all areas of public life. It applies to all workplaces in Saskatchewan.
You do not need to develop your business alone. Most successful business owners surround themselves with people who can be mentors, advisors, and business friends.
Networking is a way for you to get to know people and for others to get to know you. It helps you learn about programs and members of the community that could help with the success of your business. Networking is an opportunity to find out what you have in common with other people, groups, and businesses, and learn how you can help each other be successful.
Networking is an inexpensive way to market your business. When you network, it is important to remember the basics of business culture you learned about earlier in this section.
Here are a few more tips to help you get started in networking.
Build up a meaningful contact list:
Set a goal to meet people when you go to a networking meeting but keep the number small.
Meeting a lot of people at an event doesn’t mean you have made meaningful contacts. It is important to look for quality as you develop your network, not quantity. It is more valuable to meet three good contacts who will remember you a few days later than 30 who will not.
Spend a little time with people you already know. This may not be possible at first. As you network more and more, you will find that you are more likely to see people you have already met.
Don’t wait for someone to invite you when you are just starting out. You have to find your own events to attend.
At most networking events, people wear business suits. If you do not have a suit, wear clothes that are business casual.
Arrive on Time:
This is one of the few situations where it is appropriate to be a few minutes late. It is still a good idea to arrive on time so that you do not walk in after a meal or speech has started.
Jump Right In:
The hardest part of networking is learning how to walk over to somebody you don’t know and introduce yourself. Remember that everybody in the room will also be meeting new people. If you are uncomfortable, bring someone with you the first time. You will get more confident when you know more people. They can introduce you to further contacts. Be prepared to shake hands, smile and make eye contact.
The 30-Second Elevator Pitch:
An elevator pitch needs to be short and to the point. Your audience should want more details after your 30 second pitch. If they are not interested in more, that’s fine. They may not have been your customer or connection to begin with, or at least, not yet. Perhaps a referral to someone else they know is more reasonable if the pitch is short enough to be remembered later.
Learn to introduce yourself using the ” 30-second elevator pitch”.
Use this when you are at networking events. Write down your pitch in the space below. Practice it with friends and in front of the mirror. Practicing will help you be more confident when you tell people about your business.
Hello, my name is __________
My Company is ___________
We provide (what you do or sell)
For (Target Customer -> who you are selling to) that (describe pain/the problem you are solving)
They benefit because it (Value Proposition/the solution you bring)