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Build a glass house: the value of a transparent business

Transparency is a concept that is, at once, both exciting and terrifying for the business owner. Exciting for the business that is built and run on a foundation of ethics and conscious management, terrifying for the business that does not always follow the ethical path in the pursuit of profit.

In the modern age the consumer is imbued with more power than ever before, with near infinite access to information (thanks, Google!), myriad public platforms through which they can voice their opinions and an overwhelming selection of brands, products and services to choose from. They only want the best from their brands and this doesn’t just mean high-quality products and services, it extends to the production processes, supply chains, community relationships, CSR initiatives and myriad other aspects of the brand. The simple fact is that businesses that don’t live up to their customers’ minimum expectations and conduct themselves to a certain standard will soon find themselves out of business.

The near-omnipotence of this contemporary consumer may seem intimidating to the business owner, but, if one truly understands the concept of transparency and builds this into the culture of one’s business, there’s really nothing to fear. Ideally, a transparent business should be built from the ground up, ingraining that culture of honesty and having nothing to hide from the earliest start-up phase ensuring that every process you use, every supplier you deal with, every ingredient you source and every deal you make is above board and something that you would be willing to open up to public scrutiny. What it really comes down to is a question of ethics. If you care about your customers and conduct your business in an ethical manner, it should be fairly simple to translate this into business transparency.

The benefits of creating such a business are numerous. When consumers can see that your business has nothing to hide, it fosters an environment of brand trust and from this grows brand loyalty. Obviously if you have a good product or service that is reliable and of the highest quality, you will generate sales and turn a profit. However, sales figures and the bottom line should not be the ultimate goal for your business. One should strive to create a business that is loved by its consumers; one that adds value to peoples lives in the right way. Achieving this will not only guarantee that your customers continue purchasing your products or services; they will become brand ambassadors, generating word of mouth for your business and recommending your offering to their family, friends and anyone else in their circle of influence. That kind of brand advocacy is invaluable in the age of the enlightened consumer.

Although there is no hard-and-fast rule to creating a transparent business, as long as you’re not doing anything underhanded or unethical, you’re on the right track. Learn to create a relationship of mutual trust and honesty with your customers. Communicate with them and learn what they want and the things that they value and incorporate this into your culture, allow it to influence the way you do things.