Trust is the current buzzword. Academics are researching it, heads of HR are promoting it, experts are talking about it and executives are trying to build it amongst their teams and stakeholders. Yet as jobs are being cut and more people are turning to entrepreneurship to survive, how does a busy entrepreneur find time to consider the concept of trust when the pressures of working for oneself take up most of the day – and night?
Vanessa Bluen, MD of The Consultant Powerhouse, a company that works with corporates and SMEs to improve business performance, says, “Trust is a powerful asset and an important currency that entrepreneurs should work at building with their prospective and existing customers from the outset. As their businesses grow, trust with suppliers, employees and other partners must also be developed.”
Bluen says that the human interface is a crucial trust building block when growing a business. “Entrepreneurs are often present at the outset of a new customer relationship yet tend not to sustain this as they get busier. Regardless of how hectic your schedule becomes it is important to remain visible. Setting up a simple touch-point schedule for each client can help achieve this. Clients will realise that you don't only engage with them when there is an issue or when they need something and that you are serious about their business. Trust is built over time, one conversation at a time.”
Bluen explains how low self-orientation also promotes trust. By putting their own needs aside, entrepreneurs can quickly find out what really matters to a client. “Low self-orientation creates space to listen and understand what is relevant to your customer and to do this, you need to put your own needs aside,” she says.
Next up on Bluen’s trust techniques for small business owners is authenticity. “Act like a real person, not someone in a role. Being authentic is sustainable, being false or trying to be someone you aren’t is not. Authenticity also encourages others to respond genuinely to you.”