I work with a lot of small businesses. They typically have founders, chief executives, or leaders who are talented and accomplished in their fields. They drive their companies forward based on unique products or services that serve a need in the market. However, many companies don’t have in-house expertise for some of the areas needed to drive growth, revenue, and profit. These areas could be operations, accounting, finance, IT, HR, or marketing. In my opinion, some of the best relationships to cultivate are other small business professionals who specialize in areas you don’t have expertise. Getting a referral from a fellow small business owner who has established working relationships is almost priceless. For example, I was in need of some help with basic accounting and taxes. With an ocean of tax prep companies and accounting services out there, I wasn’t sure where to start. I asked a colleague who also runs a small business, and she recommended a resource who is perfect for smaller, less complicated businesses at a reasonable rate. My friend had outgrown his services as her business grew and moved to operations in multiple states, but spoke highly of his services. I established a relationship with him and have learned a great deal and gotten excellent service since then. The value of the referral is almost too high to count – by getting a referral for a service from someone you trust, much of the hard work spent locating and researching is done for you. What’s left is to qualify the business for your needs, understand the approach and process the provider uses, and see if you can develop a working relationship with him/her. Keep this in mind as you work with other businesses and pay it forward when you can. Never forget the power of a valuable business referral, whatever business you’re in!