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Building Trust – Why Trust Should be Your Business Strategy

Imagine the following scenario – You’re post-university (ah, remember the days!) living with a bunch of roommates. It’s the ultimate learning experience – you learn to make money fast so you can get your own place. But until then, how do you deal with the process of getting your rent money in on time? Chances are, you're using one of the following methods:

  1. One person sends a check and the others promise to repay them.
  2. Everyone promises to send individual checks, on their own.
  3. You all show up with checks, put them in an envelope, and hand it over to the landlord.

On the surface, all options sound plausible, right? But the careful reader (you, perhaps?) will notice something – the first two options rely on promises. And so what’s wrong with that? Can’t you trust each other to pay your respective shares? Well, the thing is that trust based solely on a promise can lead to trouble. This one delays repaying, so you have to chase them for the money. That one “forgets” to mail the check, and now you are all in jeopardy of losing the apartment. A better, smarter system would be for each to pay their own share, and to prove it.

That’s because actions, not promises, are the only true basis for trust.

Elements of Trust in Business

Here is something you likely know – trust is a necessary factor for any business that wants to grow. Creating relationships with partners, clients, customers, and anyone else only happens if you have gained their trust.

But does merely being trustworthy (like said roomie, who swears up and down that she’s good for it) actually earn trust? Expecting to gain the trust of others without having a mechanism by which to prove it isn’t a reliable recipe for business success.

Actions + Transparency ⇒ Trust

To forge new business relationships, you need to prove that you’ve taken certain actions. Or, in the case of action that could give rise to negative consequences like penalties, you may need your target to trust that you’re not taking that action. Either way, businesses don’t expect to convince others to trust them on the basis of mere words. As Forbes notes: “The best way to build a relationship with a potential partner based on trust is to demonstrate trustworthiness. Actions speak louder than words, and by proving that you are good for your word by following through on the actions you promise to execute on, you will display that you are a credible and worthwhile partner.”

So how can a company prove that they have taken all the proper actions, or won’t take undesired actions? One simple way is by clearly demonstrating their Compliance posture. With the right mechanisms, when a Compliance program is sufficiently mature, it can tangibly demonstrate to customers, partners, and others that the company is safe, secure, and compliant.

By allowing parties to drill down and see their actual controls, policies, and evidence in real time, it can actually communicate that posture to other parties, thereby proving trustworthiness. Based on data, companies can see Compliance live status, gain real-time visibility into the controls managed, export evidence and policies, generate dedicated reports, and even invite targets as users to the company’s account with various access permissions. By managing policies, controls, and evidence at a granular level on an ongoing basis, now the organizational Compliance posture is more likely to emanate trustworthiness. This data can then be shared, providing real-time visibility into these processes, to further develop that trust-based relationship.

Another way to demonstrate trust is by proactively addressing security and Compliance posture in a highly visible way. By transitioning from “we’re good, ask us for our certificates and you’ll see”, to “check this out, we tell you exactly what our security controls are, and how we implement Compliance best-practices”, you enter a new realm of trustworthiness. How can this be accomplished? Some companies that are deeply committed to security like Jfrog and Appsflyer display trust hubs on their websites to proactively convey their commitment to cultivating trust.

These measures route out potentially empty promises (“The check is in the mail!” Uh, yeah right.) and misplaced faith. Instead they foster a transparent understanding that the business is most certainly upholding standards and best practices.

In this way, creating TRUST can become a powerful strategy for growth.

It’s far more than a promise, it's an objective and solid manifestation of the company’s commitment to putting their money where their mouth is. This well-placed trust is the glue that ensures enterprises feel confident that their data is safe in the hands of their vendors, and is what enables deals and partnerships to take shape. With that baseline of trust, which starts with establishing transparency into Compliance activities and processes, companies can create deeper trust with vendors and partners to drive the business forward.  

Proving Trustworthiness: An Investment in Growth

We started with that roommate scenario (it really happened, by the way). The risks of trusting – and being wrong – are too great there, and they’re considerably more significant for parties risking money and reputation on a business alliance. So for a high-growth company, communicating to potential partners that a company is trustworthy is a natural next step toward further growth.

When upholding a high level of Compliance maturity is part of the company’s fabric, it can be demonstrated in a tangible way. Sure, this may not be the ONLY factor a company will look at when deciding whether or not another company is deserving of their business, but it will definitely go a long way to letting them know that you make good on your promises.

And, as they say, the check is in the mail.

Sharon Silver, Esq.
Lawyer-turned-CPA-turned-Writer-turned-Compliance-enthusiast. Lover of words. Fixer of mistakes. Content Specialist at anecdotes.

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