If you want your business to grow, it's important to create an ecosystem, not an egosystem. Business ecosystems work much like natural ecosystems. Within nature, various species live harmoniously and can't thrive without one another and the work their neighbour carries out. In a business ecosystem, you get comparable levels of mutual support without feeling you have to extract value from the other person or organisation.
This may sound counterintuitive. The whole point of business is to capitalise and ensure your company comes out on top, right? Sometimes that can be the wrong attitude to take. Take that approach and you'll develop an egosystem, not the ecosystem you need.
Those who build egosystems develop relationships, get what they want from the other party and then let them fall by the wayside. That often makes it very hard to pick up the relationship again if it's needed further down the line, because if you've taken without giving, there may be long-lasting hard feelings. It's an unhealthy attitude to doing business, and one-way relationships seldom last.
In building an ecosystem, you establish a two-way street. You reach out to people, make a connection and keep nurturing the relationship even when you want nothing in return. Checking in with people just for the sake of seeing how they and their company are is an ideal way to forge meaningful, enduring partnerships.
By offering help without expecting anything back, you build a bond of trust, care and mutual interest in each other. Odds are, they will extend the same support to you. This opens up a further tier to your business ecosystem. Your contacts have contacts within their network, and one day you may find they come in handy.
Let's say your small business is looking for a new accountant, but you don't know any, or don't know any you would entrust with the work. Reaching out to your ecosystem and mentioning you're on the lookout for an accountant could lead to recommendations. It's not trying to extract value from them, it's just a natural step based on the fact you've built up a personal and professional relationship.
Business can never be simply about 'me, me, me'. In order to succeed, you have to give without expecting anything in return. Egosystems fail – that's a fact. You need to create and nurture your own business ecosystem, and that way everyone wins.
'Being on the take' is the wrong attitude
Egosystems are built on ruthlessness
Ecosystems are built on a human connection
Your ecosystem provides mutual help and support
Ecosystems benefit everyone