Honesty: Always The Best Policy

In a previous article, we discussed how important it is to be honest with yourself. Today, I’ll be getting in to more detail on a point I raised back then, which is the importance of being honest with your clients.

We all know repeat business is the key to maximizing your Personal Independent Earnings. This is irrefutable cold hard fact.  But in order to earn the repeat business you desire, you need to build a good working relationship with your client base. And what is the cornerstone of every single successful relationship? Trust. Your clients have to be able to trust you and your business. So how do you go about building that trust? Well, solid products and services are a very good start, as is excellent customer service. But potentially most important of all is plain, simple honest. In short, don’t lie to them.

It sounds pretty basic, right? And it is. Be honest with your customers, build trust with them, and they’ll keep coming back. It’s common sense. Which makes it especially shocking that so many people mess this up. In some cases, pretty spectacularly. For our example today we’ll be looking not to the world of business, but to the world of politics instead.

For all the brouhaha and responsibility, at the end of the day politics is just like any other field. It’s a job. The voting public are your clients. Campaigning is a rather lengthy interview process (or if you don’t like interviews, and good for you, a feeling out process between company and potential future contractor). Politicians are providing a service. Their leadership. If you think about it, they’re not really that different from say…..a graphic designer. Or a writer. Or a retail employee. Or that guy at McDonald’s who can never seem to make your McFlurry right. It’s just a job. It’s business. It’s also the most extreme (and regrettably, common) example of a business flat out lying to their clients that I can think of.

At the recent Republican National Convention, United States Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan gave an impassioned speech on how the current government had failed the American people, providing numerous examples to that effect, and how he and his running mate Presidential candidate Mitt Romney, were just the ones to clean it up. There’s just one problem. Significant portions of his speech went way over the line from common political truth bending into outright fabrication. I won’t get into exact specifics, that’s not the purpose of this blog, but some websites actually clocked him at a little better than one lie per minute. It’s honestly a little surprising that, in keeping with the popular children’s rhyme, his pants didn’t catch on fire.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. He’s a politician.  They all lie to some extent. Some more than others. It comes with the territory. But this speech was so full of fabrications that even employees at Fox News, which skews Republican more often than not (and isn’t exactly a bastion of the truth to begin with) called him out on it. Fox News. That’s pretty bad. When one of the major news outlets that’s on your side pretty much no matter what you say calls you out for lying, you’ve definitely gone way, way over the line. The sad thing is, many people would never have caught on to it. Well, at least until it was heavily reported on multiple news outlets anyway. Which…it was.

So what’s the lesson for you to learn here? Well, it’s pretty simple really. Just replace Paul Ryan in my example with literally any company ever. In politics, there’s a good chance a significant portion of the voting public won’t catch on to all of the outright lies, even with all of the news coverage (or just doesn’t care). For a business on the other hand, what do you think the fallout would be?

I’ll tell you. The loss of client trust, which will lead to the loss of clients. A reduction in business. This is the polar opposite of what you want to accomplish. You want your client base to grow, not shrink. Having them lose faith in you can easily be avoided. All you have to do? Tell the truth. Granted, sometimes the truth is not what people want to hear. That’s unavoidable. The truth can hurt. But that’s the exception, not the rule. Remain honest with your clients, gain their trust, build a reputation as an honest, trustworthy businessperson, and your business will grow.

And that’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.