Reg Bamford is the CEO of Sable Group, offering financial planning, mortgage, tax and investment advice to clients who have an international aspect to their situation.
Growing a business is always fraught with uncertainty and risk. Many of the most successful global companies have had to navigate through choppy waters to reach success, and even then they must always weather the occasional storm.
The key is knowing what risks are worth taking. This will not always lead to a multi-million pound payout, but it can significantly aid the evolution of your business. It is at this point you have to employ a certain degree of trust. Many people view trust suspiciously as it suggests giving up a degree of control and placing it in the hands of another. But in business this is unavoidable – after all, isn’t this what you expect of your customers? In my view, by acknowledging the huge advantage that trust brings to your business operation, you can confidently build a company that possesses strong values and promotes this clearly.
Make it the foundation upon which you build your company
Whilst there are a large number of contributing factors to ensuring your business survives its first years in industry, without loyal customers – be they trade clients or consumers – you will struggle to succeed. This is where I believe trust becomes a central consideration. Take the time to develop a brand and product that you trust implicitly; that way you can confidently sell it to others. Sometimes, like me, you will find this easy as you build a business that delivers a service fulfilling a need or want. When I first came over to the UK from South Africa I faced a number of issues and paperwork to overcome; even opening my first bank account was a hassled and stressful affair. Problems such as this led me to eventually leave my job and start a new venture from scratch helping international professionals and small businesses in the UK. I completely trusted the services I offered because I had developed them with my own experiences in mind. And I knew they solved a genuine problem.
This transfers to the faith of my clients in the company’s offering. They can clearly see why the company has made the decisions and products it has, and they believe that they will receive only the same level of service that I myself would want to receive.
Trust your own judgement (and don’t always trust others)
You may not think you started your business this way, but I’m sure many of you will agree that your initial decisions were made on trusting that they are in the best interest of the product. Whilst this doesn’t mean your business won’t undergo a number of changes over the years, it does mean that each time you shift focus or make drastic alterations, you should continue to do so with complete trust in your decision.
This judgment call should always be at the forefront of your business brain – and it should extend beyond your product or service offering. There will often be times where you are confronted with a situation, opportunity or client in the business world where you must decide if they are to be trusted. In this case I would say don’t take any decisions lightly but don’t close off all of your options.
As well as my business, I am a keen croquet player and I’ve seen a number of parallels regarding the issue of trust. For example, in the World Croquet Championship Final in Cairo, I was playing against the top Egyptian player; I had never won and he had twice before. The home crowd were obviously on his side and employed a number of tactics to put me off my game. This made me think about business, and how not everyone has the same values and intentions as you. You have to trust that good practices will overcome bad, but sometimes you have to listen to your gut and react to that too.
Believe in your staff
When you consider the trust you put in other people, you should also look at the people you employ within your business. As you grow, you will inevitably have to relinquish control in some (however small) areas of the business, and for this you must have complete faith in the staff beneath you.
I pride myself on hiring outstanding staff; the best in the industry. Of course, everyone will profess to conduct the same practice, but the reality is that many business leaders are hesitant about hiring successful individuals as it can leave them feeling threatened. Omit these self-limiting beliefs, for they will limit your opportunities in business – shouldn’t you really only trust the best to drive your company forward? Hire the best and as each department grows and develops you can relax in the knowledge that those individuals are fully committed and driven by your vision.
When all is said and done, not everyone can approach trust with such an open mind. Many will remain hesitant of how this will affect their business, and believe it too risky to relinquish control. This reluctance must however be balanced with the opportunity that risk can provide, for it is these leaps of faith that can lead to the biggest rewards – both commercial and personal.