In every business there are certain factors that cannot be controlled by its founders or entrepreneurs. One of the harsh reality that every startup might face is that most of the things that are critical to success of startup are outside their direct control. Merely having a dream and working hard to turn it into reality, doesn’t mean you will succeed. It is advisable before starting a business or any venture you should build trust among different stakeholders to team up with them to be successful. These stakeholders can be anyone or all including customers, investors, partners, team members, and even your own family. They won’t come forward and support if they don’t trust you.
Trust is the most powerful tool that an entrepreneur can use, both inside and outside his own realm of control. You must learn how to build trust among different parties while starting your business. Be it a small venture or a big business enterprise, trust plays a vital role in its success. Therefore, every startup must learn how to build and maintain trust. Here are few learnings that almost every successful entrepreneur had learned in their way of getting established a startup.
- Build an Advisory Board: People look in a different manner at your startup if you had Mark Zuckerberg as an advisor, isn’t it? An advisory board could be a team of 5 high caliber personalities relevant to your business, with their profiles that include top organizations, well-known universities, or previous success in the startup world. Of course, it’s not that easy to get these high profile people in your team, so you could start with one-two well-positioned persons that you know and trust and build up from there.
- Become trustworthy: We usually do not trust people very easily and we tend to test others to see who we can trust. But in my opinion, the first step is to be become trustworthy ourselves. We all know that like attracts like. Thus, if you invest early in becoming a person others can trust, business people who you can trust will be attracted to you.
- Keep your promises to yourself and others. A trustworthy person is one who keeps promises to others and to oneself, no matter how small or seemingly trivial these may be. It is closely correlated with will power and self-control, and these virtues are essential to being business trustworthy. So, keep a watch on promises you make to yourself and others.
- Use online social media: Social media is essential whether you’re a startup, small, or big company. It’s an excellent tool for building customer trust and learning more about your chosen target market. It’s essential to establish an identity of your company just the way on Facebook you connect with friends to interact and share stories. Regardless of what products or services you’re offering, posting on Facebook and Twitter can actually bring you more sales than what you expect. Apart from posting updates, use your social media accounts to have actual conversations with your customers. I’m sure that building a community on your social media networks will eventually earn your customers’ trust and enables your business to receive good feedback and reviews from your customers.
- Convey your Vision and Mission: It is very important to make everyone within and outside of your organization understand your vision and mission. This will help everyone working hard to achieve the organizational goals on one hand and build trust among them on the other.
- Fulfill your Business commitments: Many businessmen make commitments to their clients regarding the product(s) and service(s) delivery. Make sure that you only make business commitments that you know you can keep. I have come across entrepreneurs who over-commit because they are desperate to have business constituents like and respect them and there are some who fail to keep commitments. These kind of situations may defame your organization and create mistrust.
- Protect your personal brand. In startups, entrepreneurs themselves are the brands. Thus, being an entrepreneur get in the habit of asking yourself, “How will this decision affect my personal brand?” Everything you do or don’t do affects your brand, and in the long run your trustworthiness is your most valuable asset.
- Avoid ambiguity in your commitments: Never let ambiguity enter into your commitments or statements. Nothing undermines trust faster than ambiguity or soft commitments. The statements like “I’ll try” or “I’ll do my best” are heard as attempts to stay off the hook, and show your low confidence level. Never ever be afraid to write down what you expect, and what you are willing to commit to.
If you are unreliable in the other aspects of your life, it is impossible to be trustworthy in business too. Trust is not a business strategy or tactic; it is the natural by-product of living for a higher purpose. If you have no higher purpose as an entrepreneur than to make money, you will most likely fail in your efforts and at the same time will lose trust of others. In business, as in your personal life, an entrepreneur must offer his own trust before reasonably hoping to have it reciprocated. Don’t try to “game the system,” and don’t expect blind faith to save you. The power of real trust is that if your constituents trust that you can change the world, you probably will.