As we mentioned in our previous blog “How to Gain Trust for Your E-commerce Business,” trust, in general, is the key to the success of your business. You not only have to build and maintain trust with your clients, customers and vendors, you need to have the trust of employees and freelancers. Some say that if you lose that trust, you may just as well pack up your business and go home. But what if your business is a home-based business? How do you gain trust?

As business owners and marketers, the assumptions you make about your target customers and the purchasing motivations you think they may have, will have a powerful affect on the health of your business. As a small business owner, your reputation means everything and you cannot afford to damage your personal brand. But trust is also very fragile. If you lose it, it’s very difficult, if not impossible, to restore it. Trust is not something you can learn from a texbook; it is something that is mysterious and often elusive. Offering lip service will not gain you trust – but your actions will. Also, it’s often easier to mistrust than trust, basically making someone guilty until proven innocent. So what are some of the ways you can build trust in your home-based business?

Often, when potential customers or vendors see that your business address is a home address or a P.O. Box, they may automatically begin to mistrust you before you have even done business with them. If you cannot afford or do not want to work from a traditional office, why not consider having a professional business address with a virtual office provider with a prestigious location such as 1 Yonge Street (the number one address on Canada’s most famous street).

You can also start by demonstrating that you trust others by giving and forgiving when someone else makes a mistake or disappoints you in some way. Re-assure them that you trust their judgement and trust that they will learn from the mistake and find ways to correct it. When feathers are ruffled (which is inevitable in any business relationship), it is how you deal with concerns and problems that instills trust.

When it comes to establishing trust from customers, trust develops from the first contact and will extend through to product or service delivery, implementation, care and support they receive from you. Along the way, you can either damage or enhance this experience for your customers and demonstrate or not demonstrate that you can be trusted. That is why it is so important to under-promise and over-deliver.

Customers should also have clear understanding of the value of your products and services. Likewise, your employees or sub-contractors should feel good about taking ownership of their work. Think of your clients, vendors and employees as a team. The more trust that a team has, the better the team performs together.

Even with the best teams, mistakes happen or complaints are made. Be sure to address mistakes and complaints quickly. Your ability to resolve problems in a timely manner will go a long way in helping you build trust. Failing to resolve conflicts with timely actions will only make people believe that you are just offering lip service – and will lose you any trust you have built.

Honesty will also go a long way to earning you trust. Nobody wants to be lied to or deceived. If you cannot deliver the product or service in the way the customer wants it delivered, be honest with them and have truthful reasons to back up why you can’t do what they are asking. In most cases, the customer trust you for your honesty. If the customer goes to competitors who promise they can deliver but they fail, your customer will gain new faith in you because you told them it was not possible in the first place and therefore promised them other solutions.

When your customers, clients, vendors or sub-contractors want to meet you at your office, you do not necessarily want to bring them into your home office – you want to bring them to a professional, upscale business environment. If you have a virtual office or mail service at a business centre, you can arrange to utilize a meeting room or boardroom at the same location.

Some other things you can do to help build trust is to be prompt when dealing with your customer and staff. This means that you should reply to that email or voice mail as soon as you can, even if you do not have immediate answers for their questions. Let them know that you are working on their request and will give them an answer as soon as you can. Also, show up a little early for that meeting, especially if you are the one who is hosting it. The last thing you want to do is invite someone to your office for a meeting and leave them waiting even for a few minutes. Being late to any meeting could also cause a loss of trust in your ability to deliver your products or services on time.