10 strategies to gain the confidence you need to start a new business


In my experience with startups, trust is the most valuable asset you can have, especially when asking people to step into the unknown by funding your innovation, joining your team, or just buying. your new product as the first customer.

You have to understand the unfortunate fact that due to the realities of life’s struggles, confidence doesn’t come by default from anyone these days.

You may be able to invent or even produce a new solution on your own, but you will soon find that you cannot build and run a business without other people, and these people must trust you.

Thus, I recommend every business owner and entrepreneur to constantly focus on building and maintaining personal confidence through the following strategies:

1. Use storytelling to highlight past reliability.

The best business leaders are adept at telling anecdotes and past experiences that humbly and subtly indicate that you have already built the confidence you need, through previous challenges and results. Showing passion, intelligence, skills and an innovative solution is not a substitute.

2. Express your commitment to a higher goal.

People who see your commitment to an important social need, or saving the environment, as a balance for generating profit, will give you extra credit in the trust department. Likewise, if you show confidence and commitment in your life outside of work, your confidence factor at work will increase.

3. Take full responsibility for the key stages of the business.

In business, not much is totally under your control, so many of you find it easy to put the blame for the negatives on someone else or on the market. This approach is not conducive to trust. Your strategy should be to accept responsibility, communicate constantly, and work effectively on backups.

4. Quantify commitments as results versus effort.

Promises to work hard or to do your best do not build confidence. These are understood as cover or efforts to avoid liability. Likewise, verbal promises are much less credible than written promises. It pays to listen to comments, rather than just trusting your own point of view.

5. Proactively market and defend your image of confidence.

Trust is your personal mark and it should be marketed and protected as the mark of your business. Take advantage of lawyers and testimonials before you are forced to defend a possible negative trust incident. Don’t assume that no visible negative means that your confidence is not in question.

6. For multi-party contracts, always document.

A paper trail is very important to ensure confidence in formal business relationships, partnership agreements and all transactions with customers. For internal measurements, metrics should always be written down and clear. I see too many conflicts of trust that could have been avoided by written agreements.

7. Report on progress and proactively explain delays.

Nothing kills credibility and trust like having to be tracked down to gain status and fulfillment of a commitment. All engagements delivered early deserve special mention and add to your trust pool. For those who need more time or extra effort, come up with a stimulus package with alternatives before it turns into a crisis.

8. Never be accused of not communicating.

Late communication or lack of communication leads people to believe that you are hiding something or that you hope to avoid the stigma of broken promises. Make sure there are no surprises for the people who rely on you, and failures are acknowledged by you rather than ignored or denied.

9. Always honor commitments, no matter how trivial they are.

What may seem unimportant to you may be very important to someone else. This includes keeping promises to yourself as they relate to responsibility for your life and discipline. When changes are needed, avoid excuses and offer alternatives.

10. Avoid over-commitments and under-deliveries.

I have seen entrepreneurs over-engage and lose the trust and respect of key people due to a sincere but unrealistic effort to stand out. Better to cushion your time demands and deliver early than to be seen as always a day late and a dollar short. You need to be the role model for your team.

You need to convince your team and other key members to trust you, before they return the favor with full engagement and commitment to you and your business. You can’t make up the difference by increasing their pay or lowering the price of your product.

The power of trust is more than money in someone’s pocket – it is a key force that enables you to change the world.

The opinions expressed here by the columnists of Inc.com are theirs and not those of Inc.com.

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