February 1, 2011

Why Every Business Person Should Have A BBF

By Paul Bieber

Sure you should have a BBF. The guy down the street has one. Quick, look it up in the index of the CRL catalog…they have everything. Nope, not this time. A BBF is: Best Business Friend.

A BBF is someone who knows you well, understands your business, and can tell you when you are going off-course. A BBF will help you through rough times with advice. A BBF will listen to you for an hour and not judge you. Together, you and your BBF can role play situations and come up with pathways to solve problems.

Your BBF can be your accountant, lawyer, a consultant, or someone else in your trade that you don’t compete with. If your company is large enough, you may have a partner or key employee that fits this role. Having a BBF is like a marriage…you don’t have to agree with everything, but you comment clearly and from your heart.

You may only speak to your BBF once a quarter, or maybe weekly if you are involved in some sort of crisis or change. You should schedule a regular dinner where the topics are laid out for discussion. The topics don’t have to be problems…maybe you want to grow into a new product line…maybe it is time to invest in a new building or maybe new equipment. Let’s say you are having a hard time deciding whether to hire Jack or Joe for a job in your shop. Make the case for each one to your BBF, and let the BBF tell you which one you should hire. A good BBF will be able to tell you what you feel by listening to your descriptions about Joe and Jack.

And, turnabout is fair play. When someone asks you to help them in this same way, do it. Pass it on. You will learn more about yourself and your business decision making at the same time.

If your BBF is a professional, expect to pay them their hourly rate…and you pick up dinner to boot. If it is a friend, don’t pay them, but if you have a good year, a modest gift would be in order.

There is an old expression, “It is lonely at the top”. Whether your are a sole proprietor or CEO of a large company, you need the outlet to share your ideas and heartaches. Go to trade groups and find a kindred soul. Go to the Chamber of Commerce meetings and listen to people’s questions…see who is on your wavelength. It may take a year to gain the trust in someone to share your basic business thoughts and problems. It is worth the effort.

A special note from Paul…Last week I received a great comment on my blog regarding violence in the workplace and firing an employee. Mr. Kim Mann, an attorney who knows the glass business inside and out, suggested that you contact your attorney prior to the final dismissal as a last word of advice. This is good advice and I should have mentioned this in my blog. Thanks, Kim.