How do you know who to trust?

Being a naturally trusting person (some may say naive), I tend to trust everyone. “Surely they just want to help? Surely they have my best interests at heart?” And I guess I’ve been lucky in that, for the most part, I haven’t been completely screwed in the past as a result of this naivety.

However, now that I have a business that is potentially lucrative, I cannot help but be suspicious of people’s motives. “Are they helping because they want something out of it? Am I meant to be rewarding them for their advice? Is their advice tainted because they want something out of it?”

I couldn’t help it. I had been in places like Egypt, where the ‘baksheesh’ is part of the culture… where you are meant to line the palms of people who give you unrequested help. Its such a foreign concept to us westerners – we pay for things we request, or for things we choose to give to (charity, buskers, etc). But to pay someone because they approached you and gave you unasked for advice on the streets of Cairo, was always something I hated, especially because it made me suspicious of every person that was nice to me… are they only nice because they expect a baksheesh?

So here in the business world, it sometimes feels like I am on the streets of Cairo. I naturally assume if someone introduces me to someone who turns into a customer, that they were doing it to help me out, but then I discover I am expected to pay a significant commission. I find people so willing to help, and then I find myself wondering what the expectation is to reward that assistance, or whether its genuinely altruistic.

However, I am becoming more confident with navigating this new terrain. I am realising that certain people around me are both trustworthy, and open about their expectations. I have been helped immeasurably whilst setting up here in London. I have a desk in a funky office, financial and strategy advice, support in seeking funding, a set of firm shoulders to help me when I’m feeling weak… at the moment, I pay nothing for this. They are the first people to have invested in me, not in cash, but in very kind kind. They believe I can do this, and have voluntarily become the backbone to this endeavour. I know when I look back, I will say I couldn’t have done it without them.

One of them I have known for many years… the others only a few months. At first I couldn’t understand why people that didn’t know me would be so kind. But as it turns out, they make gut instinct calls, and they decided to back me and believe in me… and they trust that if I make it, I’ll reward them. And of course I will. But I’m so touched that they haven’t negotiated or demanded certain equity, and I do believe a large part of the reason they do this is because they want to help and be involved in helping others achieve their dreams.

So, in the end, trust is very much a mutual thing, and honesty and forthrightness have to be constant companions on this journey. I guess it wasn’t that foreign a conclusion afterall.