For me, time is a precious resource and I know I am not alone. It’s easy to get overwhelmed and not take the time to connect with suppliers and customers. This week, in the midst of a grueling work schedule, I decided to show up at a trade show in Chicago (a three-hour drive from my office) where our customers were exhibiting. Prior to this show we created a variety of videos for them to use on their booths. In addition, we were going to send crews on site to videotape future communications. It would have convenient to finish the work, send off the videos and let my employees do the rest.

Ask any small business person about the challenges they face and at least one of them will be access to capital. In simple terms M-O-N-E-Y. Often no one wants to lend you money when you need it. When you don’t need it, everyone wants to lend you money. Another issue is the paperwork and complexity to apply for loans. When I needed cash to launch my business, I started in a pretty traditional way. I took stacks of paper and went from bank to bank. It was time consuming but I did get the loan. That first loan was under $100,000, typical for small business.

This past week I had two very different interactions that caused me to think about how my business interacts with customers. The two customers have some common characteristics. They are both successful organizations with dedicated staffs and competent CEOs. But there are big differences in the way they work with outside resources. Customer #1 is open to new ideas. If we offer suggestions about how to improve a project they listen. If we advise against a course of action they weigh the advice. Admittedly, they don’t always take it but it is considered.

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