Businesses thrive on trust.
Building that trust takes a significant amount of time and effort.
Building that trust for a small/medium-sized business is an even greater undertaking, especially when you’re using that trust to elevate the business’ position into something greater than the sum of its parts. With bigger corporations and a dedicated audience already familiar with its products, building trust is a slightly easier process to contend with: there’s a level of familiarity that comes with a large company that will make it easy for larger businesses to leverage.
However, the trust payoff for bigger companies is much smaller than what a good trust-building strategy can provide smaller businesses. Small businesses have ample time to build up a healthy level of trust that can be relied upon to see the business through, even in harder times. The key is to retain and grow that level of trust as they scale up their business.
There’s one important thing to remember, though: trust is earned. Businesses that fulfil their promises over and over again will earn that trust – and that trust doesn’t start from the first time a client purchases from your brand. It builds over time.
Here are three important factors to consider working on trust within your business.
1. A commitment to something outside of profit.
We all need to profit to survive, and that’s just the truth. Businesses, as our Head of Brand likes to say, do have to make money, but it shouldn’t be their purpose: it should be a happy outcome of pursuing that purpose.
Building a business that is trusted means building a business that has a meaning to exist outside of making money, which will strengthen your operations overall and keep you going when circumstances outside of your control dig into your profits.
2. Better relationships within the company.
You can’t have a business that’s trusted without starting that trust from within: the way your business functions externally is going to echo the way your business functions internally, and trust is a key aspect of creating a business that works seamlessly on all fronts. Think of it in terms of startups: as a startup, you have the opportunity to build an environment within your business that is entirely trusting and supportive, and the problems only start to crop up as you scale your business up.
However, if you take care to champion trust throughout the process, you can build a business that’s strong internally as well as externally, and thus provides a greater opportunity to grow. Given that businesses can be difficult to trust to begin with, don’t underestimate the power of word of mouth from happy employees.
3. A better relationship with your audience
If you’re trusted within your company, then establishing a strong relationship outside of your company is going to be that much easier – and once you have a strong relationship outside of your workers, keeping your business growing will in turn be a lot simpler.
Consumers have consistently seen businesses as far more worthy of trust than governments or other institutions. It’s unlikely that this is going to be something that changes in the near future, and as a growing business, starting with that level of trust early is going to make a difference not just in how your organisation works, but in the way it survives economic difficulties.
We said before that building trust takes time. It’s also not easy – but small businesses have an advantage. Small businesses can interact with clients on a personal level, a level that they can maintain throughout every subsequent interaction. As they scale up, the challenge then doesn’t become building trust but maintaining that ‘small business’ commitment to their clients – regardless of how big they get.
Building trust at scale for your small and medium enterprises is never going to be the easy way for a quick payout, but it is the way to go if you want to build a business that lasts – and grows – in spite of global difficulties.