Being transparent in your business is very important in the age of digital marketing and social media. You can Google just about anyone or anything. Dig harder and you can find the truth even if they won't admit it. Being transparent is more than being honest, it's building an honest relationship. As in real life relationships, those built on lies (dishonesty) never last.
For my business, I do my best to be as transparent as possible. I will own up to my mistakes, no matter how embarrassing they are or even if they will cost me a client or business relationship. Most won't do that.
I believe there are four elements to being transparent in your business, and if you follow these, you'll find your relationship with your community, and your clients, richer.
"I'll never tell a lie" is the biggest lie there is out there in society. As hard as it may be to admit, we are not all honest 100% of the time. However in business, you have to be. If you are in a regulated business, dishonesty could cost you your business license or mean jail time. For those of us in unregulated industries, being dishonest gives you the appearance of that shady salesman you try to avoid.
Being honest in your business allows you to get to know your customer and your community, and they will get to know you. Do you love watching Downton Abbey or House of Cards? I bet someone in your community does too - build on that and start the relationship! The most important part about being honest is knowing you have a clear mind about what you are doing. I'm not just talking about being honest to your audience/customers/community, but being honest with yourself. If you cannot be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with?
I'm sure you've heard the phrase "a man is as good as his word"? From honesty breeds credibility. If you are open and honest, you'll be considered credible. In any industry, credibility is important. Journalists do not want to cite people who aren't credible sources. Likewise, doctors are only going to source credible research when talking about the latest advances in medicine.
Credibility should be a part of your backbone. If you're not credible, no one is going to trust you, and trust is important. If your customers don't trust you and see you as credible, I assure you there is someone else waiting in line to fill that void.
If you're credible, then you're more likely to practice accountability. Having accountability means you can be counted on - you are honest, you are credible - people can take you on your word and rely on you to follow through.
In today's society, there is a lack of accountability & responsibility. People do not want to be held accountable for their actions. I could write a novel on it. We see it in white collar businesses as well as our citizens. They want to live their lives without recourse. You can't do that in business. Being transparent means you want (and should) be held accountable for your actions - both the good and the bad.
4. Your clients will know what to expect up front
This is where transparency all comes together. If you are honest, credible and accountable, your clients/customers will know what to expect from you and your business up front. There's no guessing what type of business you run or how you conduct yourself as a businessperson. It all cycles to this - your clients/customers.
How are you being transparent with your business? Share with us - we love to learn from our community!
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