Whom Should I Trust?

When you start a business, you spend a lot of time alone with your thoughts. Even if you’re not a solo operation, there may be very few people that you confide in or talk openly to. You probably have your inner circle. It may start with a circle of one—you—or maybe your small team. To get your business moving, you develop relationships with a select few people who are helping you get ahead. This might be a vendor such as a design firm or manufacturing company who helps you create your product or service. It might be a broker that helps you raise money. So you start to think that your vendors and investors have your best interests at heart. It’s good to be able to work with and confide in people that want to see our business be successful. Not always.

“Trust must be earned.” 

Learn to make a distinction between the people that you do business with and those that you trust with your deepest, darkest secrets.

It is not uncommon for entrepreneurs to develop trust with the individuals they started working with—even if you barely know them. How many times have you confided your lifelong dreams to a vendor you just hired? Or to an advisor you just met? Or to an investor that is considering an investment. Entrepreneurs have this pent-up need to talk about the dreams and issues of the company—and where all the bodies are buried.

Trust Must Be Earned

You do not earn someone’s trust because you do business with them. Someone does not earn your trust because they do business with you. You have to earn the trust of others and they have to earn your trust. This applies to everyone—investors, customers, employees, consultants, and vendors.

Make sure that people demonstrate the behavior and attitude that warrants your trust.

  • Have they demonstrated it over a period of time?
  • Have they made concessions to help you advance your business?
  • Have they gone out of their way to advance your business?
  • Have they had your back in a sticky situation?

Try to be objective and start from the