Why Trust is Critical for Startup Success
By Cassidy Tucker
As any business owner knows, there are dozens of factors that go into running the day-to-day operations of a successful business. For this reason, it’s essential for CEOs to have a strong and capable team to propel the business forward. What does that look like? Most business leaders can rattle off a laundry list of qualities that lead to success, like strong communication, accountability, diversity, passion, determination, respect, and intelligence. However, Google discovered that while all of these traits are great for teams to have, they’re not actually correlated with success. Who knew?!
So, what is the secret behind the success of a team, and ultimately the success of a business? Google discovered the success of a team hinges on the level of trust among team members. At SPLT, we’ve found Google’s study to be absolute truth. Despite being a small business, we’ve experienced major successes — most recently we won the grand prize of $500,000 at the Accelerate Michigan Innovation Competition — and we attribute those to our stellar team, fantastic mentorship, creativity, and technology. But we also learned that all four of these elements would have had a much smaller impact on the success of our business if each was not coupled with tremendous trust.
Why do you need trust? Trust is infused in the four elements we believe set our business apart from the competition: team, mentorship, creativity, and technology. To be a successful business owner, you must have a team that can trust each other, trust your mentors, trust your tech, and trust in yourselves to take risks and act on each other’s creativity. Let us tell you how.
We at SPLT are an enterprise rideshare platform connecting coworkers to share the commute to work. Launched in 2014, we have expanded across the globe from Detroit to Mexico City. More recently, we’ve partnered with rideshare giant Lyft to disrupt the non-emergency medical transportation space. We’re also working with automakers to be the first carpool platform built into the head unit of the vehicle. Our success is entirely driven by our team members; SPLT’s Founder and CEO, Anya Babbitt, constantly emphasizes the importance of family and friendship in the workplace. As a result, everyone works to build and maintain a collaborative, respectful, and entrepreneurial environment. Each team member is encouraged to bring new ideas and suggestions to the table. To foster this culture, we hold a weekly “Big Rocks” meeting. At these meetings, the entire team sits around the table and each person discusses his or her goals for the week or month, and then presents a strategy to achieve those goals. Other team members are then encouraged to chime in to provide advice and feedback that might help another achieve his or her goals. We find this strategy extremely helpful in building a cohesive, respectful, and trusting environment.
Mentors are an invaluable asset to our team. They offer advice, connections, partnership opportunities, and sometimes financial investment. But mentor relationships don’t work without trust. For example, at SPLT we were advised early on to pivot our business from B2C to B2B. At first, we were hesitant since we wanted to bring ridesharing and carpooling to everyone, not just employees at big companies. While our mentors respected our mission, they were wise enough to know our business model would not be profitable and, ultimately, our business would fail. By trusting in our mentors, we pivoted our business, gained Fortune 500 clients, and have been able to establish our position in the ridesharing space. On top of that, we’ve found opportunities abroad to practice a B2C model — opportunities we wouldn’t have had if we didn’t first establish our business through a B2B model. We simply cannot stress enough the importance of trusted mentorships!
At SPLT, we’ve also learned how rewarding creativity is. Of course, it’s important to creatively market your product or service to your target audiences; but some business owners overlook the importance of creativity in finding different paths to grow their businesses. As an early startup, we were forced to depend on our creativity to generate equity-free financial capital. We entered competition after competition and raised more than $625,000 by sending in applications. Competitions not only provided us with a lot of cash, but also led to an influx in press coverage with each victory.
We’ve even been able to substantially decrease our marketing expenditure by having our CEO attend industry-related speaking engagements as a panelist. This strategy increases awareness and attracts the attention of press in the audience. We’ve had numerous articles written about us simply as a result of speaking on a panel. Finally, we’re always networking — even on airplanes! That’s right: our CEO has met multiple mentors, partners, and advisors sitting right next to her on the plane. All of these creative ideas to raise money, drive press, and grow the business were brought to us from our team members and mentors. We trusted our team members’ opinions and our mentors’ advice and acted upon it. As a result, we never get stuck in the status quo because we’re constantly innovating. Creativity is important in every aspect of the business and the best way to leverage it is through trusting one another and acting on new ideas.
SPLT is a tech-company, so of course we’re going to argue for technology’s importance to the success of any business. Reliable technology is absolutely necessary to create and sustain growth. More importantly, technology can be leveraged to create trust with customers. SPLT uses SalesforceIQ, a wonderfully intuitive CRM tool that allows us to manage current relationships and nurture new leads. It is incredibly important to invest in great technology, especially when it comes to maintaining a strong reputation with your clients. SalesforceIQ enables us to keep track of our relationships and correspondence with customers, making it easy to follow-up consistently and build trust. SalesforceIQ helps us deliver on our promises, highlighting SPLT’s dedication to our clients and incentivizing current customers to renew their existing contracts.
The reality is this: your small business will face seemingly insurmountable obstacles as it continues to grow. Throughout these challenges, you’ll need to lean on your team, mentors, creativity, and technology. It is imperative that these four pillars holding up your business are reinforced with trust.
About the Author
Cassidy Tucker is the Director of Communications for SPLT, a carpooling app and service for enterprises.
Originally published at www.salesforce.com.