Culture of trust

What are the biggest obstacles for entrepreneurs? What needs to be changed in Europe so it would be more entrepreneurial?
I heard these questions many times during countless meetings of entrepreneurs and government officials. And recently, this topic was raised by 1000 startups. I feel that biggest problem is in lack of trust.

Lack of trust in laws and between people, almost like everyone is considered a thief. Imagine if we can trust to spoken promise.

Let’s presume you need to borrow a hammer from your neighbour. What if he asks you to sign a pile of papers so he will feel safe borrowing you a hammer? And then, after signing, he will constantly control you to make sure you make no harm to the hammer. In such a case, if you steal the hammer, most probably he will not sue you anyway. It is complicated and expensive. When it comes to small businesses, there is actualy no practical protection. No difference if you sign tons of legal documents. Except psychological difference. Courts are slow and excess paperwork just makes things more complicated. And this is the situation we are facing everyday.

I believe it might be easier for everyone to sign a simple “borrow” paper or no paper, since promise of a gentleman is rock-solid. Then you undergo no control before returning the hammer. You stole the hammer? You will be punished – swiftly! You returned the hammer with no harm? You are welcome to borrow something more expensive next time and with the same simple rules.
Quick punishment of fraudsters is crucial. Actually, no one is going to lend anything to fraudster.

Trust is gained through years but can be lost in a moment.

    One must start from himself. I believe we can change the environment and make entreprenurship easier for others if we nurture the culture of trust if we do the business in ethic way and “infect” others by this approach.

  • Be man of honor – We should honor gentleman’s agreements no matter how small they are. Rather don’t promise anything if you can’t deliver. If you don’t have strong memory, make a memo about the promise you gave.
  • Once you decide to do business the ethic way, there is now exception. You have to play good on all levels.
  • No bullshit – I know it’s popular in startup environment to exaggerate, but too much is too much.
  • Treat your business partners like you want to be treated yourself. Including payments, due dates, promises.
  • Choose trustworthy colleagues and then… trust them. They can do the job. If not, you made the wrong decision to hire them.
  • Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst. You are not entering the fairytale land full of good people just by doing business in ethic way. There will always be fraudsters. But this won’t stop you. Fortunately, you will learn how to recognize them.

I welcome all you ideas to make this list better.

Soon, there will be followup more closely connected to 1000startups note.

Michal

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