Business growth requires trust

What separates entrepreneurs from the ‘worker bee’ types who fill jobs, rather than creating them? It isn’t financial savvy, technical skills, or even having a good idea for a product or company.  It is risk-tolerance, a willingness to accept that great rewards only come with great risks (failure, often at great financial cost). It’s therefore clear that business growth requires trust. 

When it comes to growing and developing new businesses, that same key ingredient is still of utmost importance. Yet somehow, many successful entrepreneurs forget that dealing with risk is important at every stage of building a business, not just the beginning.

Networking and building relationships

Businesses routinely fail to manage their relationships effectively. The same advice I see carelessly thrown at job-seekers: “Build relationships,” “Do more networking” is ignored far too often by managers and business owners. As though after keeping their doors open for long enough, they suddenly feel like they have targets on their backs and can’t trust anyone.

Understanding business growth requires trust, a smart, forward-thinking business plan accounts for key junctures. It should be open to the benefits of accepting outside help to continue growth. Maybe it makes more sense to hire an accountant each year than keep one on staff. Perhaps you use so much tech that you need someone on call to help troubleshoot and provide security.  Maybe you plan on building a customer support department, but the need came faster than capacity. Perhaps you just can’t come up with the funds to finance any further development without help.

Building relationships—both within, and around a business—should be a priority for the life of a company, from conception-onward. It is as natural as any other aspect of building a business, like hiring, delegating, and planning.

Love and business growth require trust

Think of it this way: dating is scary. Building trust with your partner starts by allowing yourself to be vulnerable and giving your partner reasons to trust you back. But no relationship lasts long without at least meeting each other’s respective friends and family. It is a natural progression for your relationship to follow. And the better you can get along with each other’s networks, the better chance your relationship has of lasting.

Research from Professor Hugh Sherman at Ohio University has demonstrated that one of the biggest roadblocks to growth in rural businesses is not location, as many might assume: it is a reluctance to seek out or accept help (whether in the form of advice, investment, or partnerships) from outside a limited community. The main reason for this apprehension? A lack of trust—and a lack of risk tolerance.

Opening your business up to new relationships can involve anything from strategic partnerships to private investors, to bringing on consultants. Nothing hampers your growth potential like shutting people out behind a wall of distrust.

Great people inside and out

When it comes to assembling your team, it certainly pays to be selective and take care in hiring individuals who will work well together and serve the company as a whole. But there is a difference between being cautious and being dismissive. If you are too guarded in your hiring, you may have trouble finding enough people to staff your company.

Likewise, if you can’t find a balanced approach to building relationships with other businesses and professionals, your company may have trouble continuing to grow and develop.

Establishing co-selling partnerships with complementary product or service providers is a great way to maximize limited resources and expand audience reach; this guide will tell you more.

All the emphasis we put on team-building, job-hunting, and hiring makes it seem like the most important relationships we can build are between employer and employee. The truth is, that no business survives on employees alone. Leaders need to focus not just on who works for them but finding people to work with them.

Having a certain tolerance for risk is one of the most important prerequisites for starting and managing a business. But it is important that in dealing with risk, you remember that building relationships outside your business (with contractors, competitors, adjacent industries, investors, and so many others) is equally important to your overall development.