February 10, 2023

3 Keys To Building And Maintaining Strong Business Relationships For Empowered Growth

By: James Carey
Executive Summary

Building genuine relationships is the secret sauce to better business building. Learn about how we integrate this approach into our every day.

Building Meaningful, Long-Term Business Relationships

For founders who are at an inflection point and looking to reach the next stage of growth, building relationships isn’t just an option—it’s a necessity. But just like any personal relationship, business relationships require continuous maintenance and communication. 

As a professional family office, we believe that relationship building is a critical part of business building. Due to our unique firm structure, self-made capital, and independence from outside investors, we have the luxury of building relationships with our founders over a period of time before closing a transaction. Developing this relationship helps both our firm and founders better understand each other’s values, culture, vision, and level of commitment. Ultimately, we find that when you are more comfortable with one another, the results speak for themselves.

Here are a few of the ways we work towards building and fostering relationships with founders and business owners, both before and after a deal has been made.

Listen more than you talk.

Communication can’t happen without effective listening. Being an active listener not only helps you to better connect and understand what is being said, but it also provides valuable insights that can help you navigate the conversation more meaningfully and allow for better, smarter solutions. 

As operators ourselves, we’re always eager to help provide a new point of view to our portfolio companies, but it’s crucial that we listen first. The founders and management teams of our portfolio companies are at the helm of the day-to-day operations. While our job is to help them scale in strategic initiatives like key hires, long-term growth, building and professionalizing their teams, and more, these strategies must address the pain points they’re facing—and that involves having a deep understanding of those challenges, first.

Revel Bikes CEO, Adam Miller, and the partners of Next Sparc, James, Len, Miles, and Nate.
Mushroom Rock viewing point in Carbondale, CO.
Miles Molyneaux, James Carey, Len Pagon, and Nate Carmon atop Mushroom Rock in Colorado.

Take the relationship outside of the business setting.

Building great companies is a people business—and the “people” part is nothing to take lightly. Finding ways to connect with partners and colleagues in and outside of a business setting can be a critical way to find common interests, establish trust, and touch base on a deeper level. Our team is equally passionate about the businesses we help build and in finding common ground with our partners outside of business, too.

Last month, we met with our partners at Revel Bikes for a quarterly meeting in Colorado. While part of our visit included board meetings to discuss progress on business outcomes, we also created opportunities to connect outside of the four walls of the conference room.

What began as a spur of the moment suggestion to venture out and take in the Mushroom Rock viewing point in Carbondale, CO, ended in our collective team hiking the entirety of the Red Trail. Hiking is a passion all of us share, and it not only gave us a chance to get some fresh air, but allowed us to exchange and share personal dialogue that deepened our connection with each other.  

Check in regularly.

When it comes to maintaining successful business relationships, most people are primarily focused on the initial contact. However, those early conversations are just one part of the formula. Checking in regularly can help strengthen trust, provide an opportunity to share expertise and knowledge, and deepen the relationship. 

The founders we partner with at Next Sparc operate high-growth businesses, and they often seek out our input. At the onset of each opportunity, we deploy a 90-day or 100-day action plan, set up quarterly board meetings, and schedule monthly and even weekly check-ins. These scheduled meetings provide an opportunity to touch base and build on the relationship, but are also flexible, following a natural rhythm depending on what level of engagement and support is needed from our partners.