What is the role of trust in small business success?

- February 19, 2021 3 MIN READ

Building solid foundations is the crucial starting point when it comes to building a house. Your foundations will safely distribute the weight of your new home and prevent the subsoil from spreading, avoiding an unequal settlement of the structure. This could lead to catastrophic structural issues and possible collapse down the line, writes Mark Lebusque.

Mistakes at this stage could prove costly, so it’s vital to make sure everyone is working from the same set of plans. Be prepared to be flexible if the excavation process reveals some surprising ground conditions.

It’s the same when we are building trust within a small business.

A house built on a shaky foundation will eventually collapse – Toni Payne

As a business owner, it can be a trap to start from a more transactional approach.

Focus entirely on spreadsheets and hitting the KPI’s (what can be seen above the ground) and less on the human element of building trust (what can’t be seen below the ground). Over time if the human elements are not solid, and trust is not established, then the business, like the house will be on shaky ground.

So, then you may ask – what is the role of the business owner in building trust to create a solid foundation?

It all starts with business owners uttering the following twelve words and a change of mindset:

“You don’t have to gain my trust, you have it to lose.”

The importance of trusting implicitly whilst appearing risky to some on the surface, cannot be understated if you have aspirations of building a sustainably successful small business.

When the focus on trust is based upon having to earn it by delivering transactional outputs, then you’ve started on a shaky base. When there is the slightest movement in interpretation all will come crashing down.

Here are five key roles building trust plays in a business.

  1. Creates psychological safety – humans need to feel safe, and being trusted is the foundation of this. Fear of not being trusted paralyses humans and saps their energy.
  2. Allows humans to bring their whole self to work – we are all unique and when we feel trusted, we are comfortable in our own skin to show up as who we are, not who we think someone wants us to be.
  3. Open up space for humans to constructively challenge each other – one of the greatest fears is that if one challenges authority then they’re shown the door. As a small business owner, you must encourage voices to be heard and be fearful of group think and head nodding.
  4. Fosters creativity and experimentation – trust is the material that humans need to try new things, succeed or fail and then try again. If trust is implied, watch your team tap into their creativity and step forward with innovative ways to delight your customers.
  5. Builds a strong sense of belonging – as social species, all humans want to be part of something bigger, and trusting them creates a feeling of relevance and the confidence they are contributing to the team.

Here again. are the twelve words that will serve you and your team well, and ensure you have the footings to allow the house of trust to stand the test of whatever conditions it endures:

‘You don’t have to gain my trust, you have to lose it.’

What’s your approach to trust?

‘The first job of a leader at work is to inspire trust. It’s to bring out the best in people by entrusting them with meaningful stewardships, and to create an environment in which high-trust interaction inspires creativity and possibility’ – Stephen Covey.

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3 reasons why trust matters in 2021


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