One of the hardest things an entrepreneur can do is to start something. And by start something, I mean finding and idea that people love and are also willing to pay for. Once an entrepreneur has started something, the process of building trust begins. And that process is the hardest part of the entrepreneurial journey because it truly never ends. Trust is one of those things that takes a lifetime to build but can be lost in the blink of an eye, literally. Trust is a major part of your personal brand as an entrepreneur. Lose the trust…lose your personal brand…lose your business…lose your money.
So how can you build trust as an entrepreneur when you’re just starting off? It takes time. But if you put the time into these 5 areas of your business, then you can quickly earn trust with your prospects, increase the value of your personal brand and grow them as customers.
1) Be Consistent
2) Offer a Great Customer Experience
3) Listen Before Speaking
4) Be Transparent
5) Help Your Customers for Free
Let’s breakdown what exactly I mean by each of these.
Consistency boils down to doing what you say you’re going to do in a timely fashion. This can be hard as an entrepreneur because on top of doing the work that you said you were going to do, you have to be marketing, selling and maintaining your business. But the customer only cares about you executing on the work that they need done. The more times that you execute successfully on a project then the more work you will get from that customer. They will mentally establish a pattern of you executing strong work for them.
Offer a Great Customer Experience
Make sure that you under-commit and over-deliver when it comes to accepting projects. Make sure that you don’t just agree to take on work because you rationalize to yourself that “you need it” or “that you can’t say no.” When accepting new work, the rationalization in your head should be because in your head you said, “Hell yes!“
Listen before Speaking
Often times as entrepreneurs, we fall in lust with our idea of what the solution is without actually knowing if that solution is what the customer wants. It’s important to know your “why” so that when you’re having a conversation with a customer you can focus on what they’re trying to accomplish. Having a solution to a problem before hearing what the problem is equivalent to choosing a random number on the roulette wheel and hoping you win money. It all sound fun in our own heads but reality rarely works out like we envision in our heads.
Show. Don’t tell. You should show as many cards as to your client as they ask to see. Lots of entrepreneurs unnecessarily worry about giving away their “secrets.” Two things here: 1) there are very few ideas that your customer hasn’t seen or come across; and 2) if you’re that worried about someone stealing your idea, then you’re devaluing how much your ability to execute is.
Ford Fry can tell me how to make every recipe step-by-step that he has. It doesn’t matter. 1) I don’t have the experience he has to mix the ingredients together perfectly; and 2) I have no desire or love for cooking. I just want to eat. Ford love to cook. He will always beat me in the kitchen if I try to copy him.
Help Your Customers for Free
Every time you interact with you customer, you should be spouting off free ideas. Do not hold back. I’ve come across many acquaintances that try to bilk their clients for every hour that they talk to them. This is a terrible idea because each time the client thinks to engage you they will hesitate because it will cost them money just to talk to you. That hesitation is severely limiting to how much you can grow as a person and how much you can grow that relationship with a client.
Think about lawyers. The only reason that you call a lawyer is when you need something from them. They’re a necessary evil. They know it, and that’s why they charge by the hour.
If you charge by the hour with customers, they will rationalize to themselves that they can do X on their own without ever having consulted you. Not only does this lead to missed business opportunities, but it leads to missed relationship-building as well. Do not hold back with your clients. It’s an opportunity for the both of you to grow together.
That’s it! Those 5 things will absolutely help you earn trust with prospects so that you can grow a healthy client-base and business. Your personal brand as an entrepreneur is your business because until your business has enough brand equity to stand on its own, your personal brand equity is the only thing keeping the business upright.
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