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Leveraging on trust to build your business

One of the biggest disadvantages of small businesses is the lack of credibility or a proven record. Many small businesses miss out on tender bids and other opportunities simply because they haven’t done enough groundwork to build trust.

A great track record is essential for you to earn enough of your potential customer’s trust to make a purchase or place an order.The irony is that you are only starting out and you need them to try out your product or service yet they need products that have already been tried and tested.

The sad reality however is that a significant number of small businesses haven’t done a good job in building a good reputation for their peers. We have heard so many stories of people who lost money because they had invested in unproven businesses or in the worst of cases were scammed by bogus business people.

Many have dealt with the frustration that comes from debtor numbers not going through, late deliveries and shoddy workmanship. As a small business, breaking from this stereotype will bring more opportunities and eventually fuel the growth of your business.

BE CONSISTENTLY TRUE TO YOUR WORD

Let your word always be true, and once given it should be adhered to religiously. Do not commit to things that you cannot achieve. As easy as it is to say, this starts with understanding yourself, your capabilities, your values and your shortcomings. Once you understand yourself, let your values, goals and competencies guide your operations. This, coupled with the simple ability to say “NO” will keep you out of situations that could result in your integrity being compromised.

BUILD YOUR NETWORK

“No business is an island.” Invest your time into building positive relationships with your various stakeholders. A good referral will go further than any advert could. It has been said that it is a small world, but even smaller, is the world of business.

START

Whatever your line of business…. Start building it up now. Simply quit the excuses and do whatever you can with whatever you have. When lenders ask for your records, in most cases they simply need proof that you are active in that line of business. What experience do you have? In most cases, they aren’t expecting any fancy stuff, so don’t “cook up” the books… We can smell a fake record from miles away. Let your true numbers speak for themselves. They will give an indication of your experience as well as the areas that you need help with.

BE PROACTIVELY TRANSPARENT

If you promised to get something done by Friday and you realize it will take you longer, simply call the client to explain the delay and ask for more time. Do not switch off your phone and then reappear when you’re done. The same goes for your creditors. Approach them well beforehand and explain your situation. Come up with a payment plan and request more time. Yes, they might not be too pleased about it, but this goes a long way in building trust and they will appreciate it. Do not play hide and seek.

Become an authority in your field

One of the easiest ways to earn trust and recognition is by using all the forms of media available to you to share information and discuss top is related to your field. You can set up a website, a YouTube channel or a Facebook page. This can be a page about hair and make-up, channel about recipes or a website focusing on construction. The key here is to strategically showcase your brand on all those platforms. Get a good logo and display it prominently. This will be useful when your potential customers search for you online.

PRESENTATION IS KEY

Small businesses do not have the luxury to slack in any area, especially presentation. Some years ago we requested quotations from a number of marketing companies. Among the bidders was an acquaintance. This guy told me he could do the job but did not present any company profile or catalogue. Needless to say, he missed out on the opportunity and another well prepared bidder won. So prepare proper company profiles, catalogues, price lists and even promo items like branded pens and keyholders… after all, who doesn’t want a freebie?

When you have secured the client, fulfil your promise and if possible go beyond. Satisfy their needs and ask them if they would refer others. If yes, then request the contacts of any prospects as well as testimonials. If not, find out their pain points and refine your offering.

In conclusion remember that you can only grow your business if you acquire new customers and retain existing customers. Your goal should be to leverage on your good reputation to create an ever growing pool of regular customers through referrals.

As always, I wish you happiness health and wealth.

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