by Prerak Shaw
Republished from Entrepreneur, December 4, 2018
What are the factors essential for an Entrepreneur to succeed? Great idea, product or a service, adequate funds, effective marketing strategy and a skilled team to deliver. However, while all those are critical, the most crucial and not often talked about factor is trust.
Trust is the fabric that holds everything together. Today, when technology has made the world come closer and where commerce has crossed geographical boundaries and consumers will be dealing with people they’ll never meet in person, acquiring and sustaining the trust would become all the more critical. Today the wide amount of business (product/services) is conducted on portals and websites. The increasing impersonal experience of businesses requires a great deal of trust.
Customers are hard-wired to seek trustworthy people with whom they can do business with – may it be purchasing a service/product OR selling a service/product on payment/credit terms. Trust issues in general, are of two types. One, that businesses out there are to make higher profits by selling at a much higher price than its perceived value. Secondly, more specific trust issues revolve around internet security, fraud, identity theft and lower quality products/services delivered than promised/showcased. It is up to the entrepreneur to eliminate areas of mistrust and strengthen trust amongst its consumers.
People are hard-wired to seek trustworthy people with whom they can do business with – let it be purchasing a service/product OR selling a service/product on payment/credit terms. Trust issues in general, are arising from two logical points. One is that people believe that businesses out there are to make higher profits and for that, they sell products at a much higher price than its actual or perceived value. Secondly, more specific trust issues revolve around security, identity theft, fraud and cheating i.e. lower quality products/services delivered than promised/showcased. And to be successful in the highly competitive market of today, it is an entrepreneur’s own benefit, to eliminate such areas of mistrust by providing the best of service/product and the right price.
Trust is Contagious. Trust Attracts Trust
As an entrepreneur, the mark of a trustworthy person is when you keep promises to others as well as to yourself. Keeping promises is closely correlated with willpower, ethics and self-control, and these virtues are essential to building successful team and business. If you invest early in becoming a person that others can rely upon, you are likely to attract more and more people, consumers, towards you and your business, and benefit of recognized as a trustworthy brand would be priceless.
Trust is Not Imposed or Begged, It’s Earned and Offered
Trust isn’t something that you can buy by paying price OR applying force. Many cruel kings in our history are a prime example of that. While people followed and obeyed their orders, they could never earn the respect or love of their ‘praja’. Where else, many kings and saints – like Mahatma Gandhi and Mother Teresa, have ruled the heart of people without having any authority to rule. Same goes for business.
In older days, a business that our ancestors ran, cultivating trust was primarily an individual’s affair. They had limited reach but with their own code and conduct, they were able to establish very strong repute with their customers, which then propagated further through word of mouth. But in today’s age powered by the internet, the concept of trust has changed forever. While trust remains at the heart of commerce, the methods to build trust have changed.
In the digital age, it’s just a snap of fingers for consumers to recommend to others a company that they trust. A satisfied customer with digital channels can spread the word about an experience with your business to, potentially, a limitless number of people, simply with the press of a few keys on his/her computer or a smartphone. And, do know that consumers are paying attention, as its important to them to make their next purchase decision. Beware though, as a good healthy recommendation can rapidly grow your business, mistrust can mar your business repute at a much faster pace. So while trust cannot be purchased, being attentive to customers’ genuine needs and service requests and handling them well is the best way to earn trust.
The Foundation to Build Trustworthiness – Under Commit and Over Deliver
As much rewarding it is to build trust, losing trust can be equally detrimental. So don’t try to be popular by promising more. Make sure that you only make business commitments that you know you can keep. Over-commitment without matching delivery leads the entrepreneurs to quickly lose respect. There is one more thing: Not making a commitment is also not an option. One of the traits of notoriously unreliable people is refusing to make promises in the first place, thinking that making no commitments relieves them of any worry about breaking them. People see through this strategy quickly and will tag you not reliable and indecisive, as well as not trustworthy. So be willing to make commitments, it is very important but at the same time, committed delivery is far more important.
The Bottom Line: Invest in Reputation Management
In the end, essentially it is the same market that all companies fight for – they may have teamed with similar skill sets, they may offer similar products or services and their prices difference also may not be that big. However, key distinguisher that successful entrepreneur has is – over the period of time, they have earned the trust of their audience. As the future world becomes more complex and impersonal, a trust will increasingly become more crucial for businesses and investing in reputation management – through trustworthy delivery and reputation marketing, will be mandatory for any business – small or big, belonging to any industry domain.