Derisking the risky stranger

By Chris Helm

Chris is fascinated by how people and businesses connect their aspirations together to create mutual benefit.

You know what it’s like, you’ve just met someone new and you really quite like them.

They seem kind and well-meaning as well as being smart and helpful. But something’s still holding you back. What could it be? The chances are, you just don’t know and you might never find out.

As children, we’re taught about stranger danger – how people that you don’t know might be bad. But we’re less frequently taught how to evaluate what someone else wants and what it will be like to start a relationship with them. If we never take a risk, we’re safe – but we may spend the rest of our lives living in an exceptionally small bubble. The same applies in business. Relationships with new advisors can be tricky and many people in business tend to stick to the tried and trusted ones, which can be a great recipe, especially if they continue to innovate and grow themselves. But it can also mean that your business stagnates. New advisors bring fresh ideas and increase the competition to progress, innovate and be more efficient. So it’s in everyone’s interest (buyer & advisor) that we find ways to derisk the relationship.

Having had years of experience on either side of the table, here are some Catseye top tips to help you break down the barriers and de-risk your relationships:

  1. Take your time – When working together for the first time, take the pressure off by slowing things down and scoping them properly. That way, you’ll have a really clear and shared understanding about what you’re collaborating on.
  2. Get the chemistry right – Just like when you start dating someone new, have a chat about the things you like and the things that you don’t. That way, you can both work hard to make the relationship as strong as possible from day 1.
  3. Start small – The cost of a pitch process is an expensive one on both sides, especially if you know a supplier has no track record with your business and is unlikely to be chosen. Find a small, “under the radar” project that’s not going to get anybody fired if it hits a bump or two. That way, you can get a feel of what it is like to work together before committing to anything more serious.

So go on, give it a try and let someone new into your life ;-)


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