Our relationships with other people are built on trust.
Relationships are formed in our personal social life, as well as in our more public business life. Therefore, it is important to understand your levels of trust with other people, and the dynamics of that trust in the various interactions that you engage in. This is a key skill when it comes to entrepreneurial skills.
Social Entrepreneurs and the Blur Between the Social and Business
Interestingly, Oliver Marks delves into the dynamics of trust for social entrepreneurs in his article ‘Your Social Life and Business Life: The Trust Issue.’
Entrepreneurs tend to be ‘always on’, constantly seeking insight and connections to further themselves and their businesses, but for the vast majority of people there is a clear delineation between their social and work life…This blur of work and play is made immensely more complicated by the current confused use of the word ’social’ in a business context.
Social entrepreneurs are indeed involved in a career that is based on the improvement of society around them. The interplay of trust, therefore, is highly important for you to consider as you work with your staff, with government, other social enterprises and even the beneficiaries of your work.
Oliver points out that trust can be tricky for businesses that engage in the ‘social.’ Here, he refers to both social enterprises that aim to provide positive social or environmental impact, as well as the high-tech social media companies and other private businesses wanting to build community with people both inside and outside the company. While different, these two types of ‘social’ businesses both are heavily engaged with people. In dealing with people, both require an understanding of how trust works.
Social Enterprises, Trust and Privacy
For social enterprises, Oliver points out:
Social work predates the use of the word in a hi tech online communication context – most people on the planet are familiar with the concept of social work as the pursuit of improving quality of life with welfare. Social workers look after the elderly and infirm professionally, while general social work is generally understood to mean charity work – dealing with poverty for example. The new book ‘Building Social Business: The New Kind of Capitalism That Serves Humanity’s Most Pressing Needs‘ by Muhammad Yunus, the practical visionary who pioneered microcredit and, with his Grameen Bank, won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize exemplifies those who are attempting to foster positive change in the world.
Both social enterprises and social media businesses both rely on trust as a foundation. The importance of trust can often be demonstrated through the privacy of information – and this has been a big issue in particular for social media communities in recent times. Nevertheless, as social enterprises also deal heavily with the trust of beneficiaries and sensitive information, I would argue that privacy is no less important for them, too.
While the social and business life can be especially blurry for social entrepreneurs, your reputation and the trust placed upon you by the community can be greater – and it can often mean that you have to take responsibility by ensuring that personal information about your social and environmental programs are kept private through adequate policies and monitoring, which are both great entrepreneurial skills to have.
Share Your Experiences
What have been your experience? What kinds of trust challenges have you faced as a social entrepreneur or social enterprise? How have you overcome them?