Oct 162011

Entrepreneur - Be A Trusted Business Advisor

Entrepreneur – Be A Trusted Business Advisor

If you are an entrepreneur involved in providing services to your clients, in most cases, I think your biggest goal should be to become a trusted business advisor.  What is a “trusted business advisor”?  It is an advisor who adds value consistently over a period of time.  In so doing, the advisor develops a relationship of trust and respect with the client and the client becomes more willing to rely on the advisor regarding important issues and decisions.  The advisor’s consistently high-level and high-value-added work gives the client peace of mind and allows them to focus on running their business, rather than constantly worrying about the performance of the advisor.  The advisor becomes like a member of their trusted internal team.

I have written elsewhere that sustainable success in business is based on trust.  There I discussed ten things you should keep in mind as you develop those trusting relationships.  Here I will expand on those in the context of the trusted business advisor concept.

1.)   Do what you say you are going to do.  This is basic, but missed frequently.  There is no room for error on this one.  If you are going to become a trusted business advisor, you must do what you tell the client you are going to do.  No excuses.

2.)   Do not over-commit, so you cannot do what you said you were going to do.  Over-commitment is at epidemic levels in our society.  There are so many opportunities and distractions that people, especially ambitious, achieving people, often fall victim to shiny object syndrome.  Don’t allow this to happen to you if you truly want to achieve trusted business advisor status.

3.)   Have a medium- and long-term perspective.  If you want success over the long-run, you cannot look for the quick hit or to maximize how much you make from someone every single time!  In the context of building a trusted business advisor relationship with a client, they need to know that you will always do the right thing by them, in the short-term, long-term and any other timeframe you can think of.

4.)   Be patient.  Realize that trust is built over time, not overnight.  I like to say that we live in a short attention span world.  Almost everything we do these days is structured for short-term, or even instant, gratification.  Trusting relationships are not built instantly.

5.)   Treat everyone well.  Don’t be selective about who you treat well.  That is tantamount to insincerity and will be sniffed out very quickly by most everyone.  Human beings have a sixth sense for insincerity.  When you’re building a trusting relationship with anyone, whether it is a client or someone else, it really helps if you genuinely care!

6.)   Show empathy.  You must show empathy to those with whom you interact.  And importantly, it must be sincere.  If it’s an act, it will have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for.  Empathy is at the core of building trusting relationships.  If you want to become a trusted business advisor, you must learn to truly empathize with your clients regarding the issues they face.  Too much “me, me, me” and trust and connection will be out the door.

7.)   Help people without expecting anything in return.  I often say we live in a “quid pro quo” world; it’s all about give and take.   That said, go out of your way to help people, even if you don’t know if there’ll be any reciprocation.  At a minimum it will come back to you in the form of trust.  This gets back to truly caring about people and not being afraid to let is show!

8.)   Remember that the client must be satisfied.  Even though it’s pretty obvious that the client is not “always right,” as the saying goes, they usually believe that they are.  As the advisor, you need to make sure that the client is satisfied.  If they know you will always do this, they will trust you, your company and your brand, which is the foundation of a long-term trusted business advisor relationship with the client.

9.)   Leverage the trust you’ve developed.  If you’ve done a great job for a client, don’t be shy about asking them for referral business!  Typically, unless there are competitive motivations (not wanting a competitor to enjoy your fine service), they will be more than happy to send business your way.  I have found that in some trusted business advisor relationships, the client values your time and advice so much, and realizes that your “bandwidth” is limited, that they don’t necessarily want to share with others!  That doesn’t happen in all cases though, and in most cases, you should not be afraid to ask for referrals.

10.) Don’t do anything to betray their trust.  Once you work so hard to build up trust with your clients, don’t do anything to betray that trust!  Don’t put yourself in conflicted situations, whether they’re “black and white” or even “grey areas”.  As one of my early and favorite mentors told me, “If it’s grey, stay away”.  The client must know that you will always have their best interests in mind, or you will lose the trusted business advisor relationship before you know what happened.

There you have some ideas for taking the right steps to achieve trusted business advisor status with your clients.  It is not an easy road, obviously, but it is well worth it!  Creating such strong, trusting relationships with your clients is rewarding on many levels.  You will not regret the effort you must put in to make it happen.  Trust me.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.


Paul Morin



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  • Fred Kane

    Not only great business advice, but great guidelines for personal relationships as well.

  • Agreed, Fred. These guidelines apply not just to entrepreneurship and client relationships, but to personal relationships as well.

  • Wendy

    Very good advice – thank you for putting it together – I agree that this should be carried over into all of our valued relationships.

  • Thanks, Wendy. Agreed — this advice works not just for entrepreneurship and business relationships, but for any valued relationship.

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  • Jayna Locke

    Hi Paul,

    Great post. I love the “shiny object syndrome.” In my experience and humble opinion, that is one of the biggest challenges today for any business. Social media, as magnificent as it is, contributes to our collective ADHD because there is always some new method for interacting, some new network to be a part of. You can easily get so caught up in learning new strategies and trying new things that the basics of nurturing quality client relationships can go by the wayside. Trust is everything. Thanks for the great post!

  • Hi Jayna,

    I couldn’t agree with you more — “shiny object syndrome” has reached epidemic levels and social media is a major contributor to our collective ADHD. It certainly does have it’s uses, but its important (and difficult) not to get carried away with it! In the end, it’s all about trust and trust is hard to develop if we’re flitting from one thing to the next. Trust is developed based on quality interactions over a period of time.


  • Monyelle

    Great post! Easy to follow, but so hard for many to do! 🙂

  • Thanks, Monyelle. Yes, it’s not easy to achieve trusted business advisor status, but it’s well worth the effort!

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  • plan

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was good. I do not know who you are but certainly you are going to a famous blogger if you aren’t already 😉 Cheers!