3 Trust-Building Tips Every Entrepreneur Should Take to Heart

Latest posts by Dustin White (see all)

At the end of the day, entrepreneurship is the ability to build a business opportunity out of a void in the marketplace. It’s a tall order and the reason why so many entrepreneurs rarely do it alone. In fact, some would argue (me included) that one of an entrepreneur’s greatest assets is a knack for bringing together all the right people to build on an idea.

The only problem is that one’s asset of togetherness can sometimes become a liability. I’ve seen many entrepreneurs over-promise during their startup’s infancy, when they gather a group of supporters on a not-so-solid foundation. Then, when things inevitably don’t go as planned, it leads to undue anxiety and takes away from the actual growth and progress of the business and the entrepreneur’s credibility.

Now, amassing an arsenal of investors, partners and employees is one thing. But, getting them to trust you and your vision fully is an entirely different story — and it is indispensable to your success as an entrepreneur.

For one, trust from those around you can make it much easier to nurture your idea into a viable business.

It can also create a level of comfort where people feel like they can come to you with questions and concerns. Feedback, after all, can lead to revelations that you wouldn’t otherwise come to on your own.

However, trust is hard-won in the startup space. Who can blame someone for being a little skeptical of an unproven, untested idea or product? As an entrepreneur, it all comes down to understanding the audience when you set out to form relationships rooted in trust.

The trust trio

Let’s take, for example, your relationships with potential investors. In this situation, trust can be broken up into three parts: sincerity, reliability and competence. Reliability and competence are often easy to judge. If an investor is true to his or her word, you can usually assume the person is reliable, while a portfolio of successful ventures can indicate that the person has what it takes to get a business off the ground.

Sincerity, however, can be elusive, and it’s where those who are new to the startup space get hung up. You enter into the relationship thinking the investor is judging your every move, so you keep certain developments close to the vest. Sure, it’s hard to be open and honest with investors when things aren’t going well, but you miss an opportunity to get insights from people who have already been around the block.

Overall, open and honest communication serves as the foundation for trust. As an entrepreneur, you need to get comfortable putting yourself in a vulnerable position by asking questions and seeking advice. Your investors, partners and staff understand that no one has all the answers — not even founders. You won’t be punished for experiencing doubt. In fact, acknowledging your doubts humanizes you and can boost trust to a higher level.

3 ways to build trust where you need it most

While building trust can be complicated, I’ve found that certain tactics can work better than others. The following three steps often top the list:

  1. Be impeccable with your word: When you establish a relationship with anyone, you enter into an agreement to faultlessly keep your word. Accomplish this by putting your best self forward in both word and deed by communicating without criticism, sharing without censorship and asking for what you honestly need from others. Respect and candor often beget compassion and cooperation.
  2. Show up for people without expectations: There’s a safety and security that comes with the feeling that someone has your back. Your investors, partners and staff want to feel that with you. They want to see that you’re willing to stand by your team. Even if there’s a problem as a result of something someone has done, the buck should always stop with you. You do yourself no favors by placing blame or pointing fingers. Develop trust within your team through leading by example. Instead of hiding when something falls through, be quick to own your mistakes and find a remedy that makes sense for you and the team.
  3. Get personal: As you add people to your roster (i.e. investors, partners or employees), get to know who you’ll be working with on a personal level. If you get to know someone personally, you become that much more effective in supporting his or her contributions to your business. This approach also improves morale in the workplace, as employees who trust their immediate supervisor are often happier.

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Take the time to get to know your team better by asking a variety of questions. Just make sure these questions are ones you’re willing to answer, too. Ask about their passions, interests and hobbies. Get to know what they find ideal in workplace, how they work, and what inspires them to succeed.

When establishing relationships, one of the most important things you can do as an entrepreneur is listen. The information you get and the trust you foster from open, honest conversations, staying true to your word, being there for others, and connecting on a personal level can do wonders for a business and help you weather almost any storm that comes your way.

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