When starting a business, there are many decisions to be made and factors to consider to ensure success. From who to hire and where to locate a headquarters to how to secure business partners and investors, these can all have both immediate and long-term effects on a startup. That said, one element that is a key for all new companies to establish from day one is customer trust – especially newly founded companies.
Let’s face it, startups don’t have a track record, name recognition or credibility. Why should customers trust them? Yet they do, every day. For a company that is working to get off the ground, what is the best way to accomplish this and establish legitimacy? It can be tricky.
As an entrepreneur in the finance-tech space, I have had to address this issue many times over, as clients are often abandoning traditional payment methods and turning to new, innovative products and services to move their money globally.
Over time, I’ve found three effective ways for building trust with customers from the start.
Incorporating trust into your business model.
Having a transparent business model that allows early adopters to provide feedback and input shows that your company is not only listening to those outside of the organization but also able to adjust to meet the expectations and needs of its customers.
At my current company, Currency Cloud, we systematically surveyed our customers to find how we could best serve them and fill a void in the market by actually providing services that companies need. We focused on identifying how clients were utilizing our platform, which features they found the most useful and how we could improve. This survey in reality was simple to create and administer, but at the same time, provided us with a wealth of knowledge that we could use to continue to strengthen our services.
Having the right investors and board.
Not only should your investors and board trust you but your customers and business partners should also have confidence in your backers. Having the right names supporting your business shows your abilities as a leader to draw in well-respected investors and industry leaders to advise and fund your startup. This trusted roster of individuals and funders immediately shows current clients and potential employees that they are in capable hands and can be the tipping point for potential customers who are weighing their options for working with a new company.
Attracting well-respected investors, advisors and board members requires the same efforts and transparency needed to reach early stage customers. Creating an open and trusted foundation that draws in these individuals is an integral part of achieving legitimacy.
Hiring employees with industry knowledge.
Hiring employees that are knowledgeable and passionate about your industry and mission is crucial for being a trusted brand. When starting a company in a relatively new industry, this can be a challenge, but taking the time to surround yourself with individuals that you believe in shows investors and customers your belief in the business. These are the people that are going to represent you at new business pitches, meetings with partners and maintain relationships with customers. Also, hiring individuals with industry connections and great reputations can take some of the pressure off of bringing in new clients and partners.
Many of our early deals at Currency Cloud were from referrals by people that had previously worked with our executive team. Through this we quickly had the confidence and customer base we needed to pursue other clients and grow our company in the new FinTech industry.
All of these practices show customers that you are serious about earning and keeping their trust. Once a strong relationship has been built with early customers, investors, employees and business partners trust your efforts as a leader and entrepreneur.