Honesty is the best policy, Transparency is the key

Yesterday I was lucky enough to watch a presentation from a client and friend of Optix who has taken his business from a couple of million turnover to 30+ in just 6-7 years. Oh and the best bit – he only has around 40 staff. He talked about his meteoric growth and the lessons they learnt along the way. Some of the stories were gob smacking to say the least.

I live to learn from people like this. I think anyone who can’t sit and soak in that kind of information is missing such a trick. If you get the chance to talk to people who’ve ‘been there, done that’ take it with open arms, you’ll learn so much.

One thing that shone through from his presentation was the need to be transparent and honest in business. He particularly referenced his relationship with his bank manager which I thought was interesting. If anything goes financially wrong in his business he explains it straight away to their bank and similarly, he shares good news too. He feels strongly that this honest and transparent relationship means that when it comes to needing help then everyone knows the score and he’s more likely to get it. I can see his logic and while I have a great relationship with my bank manager, its probably not as solid as his is – something I’ve taken away to work on.
If you make a mistake, own up. Face it down and deal with it. Sticking your head in the sand or trying to hide something or worse hoping no one finds out will lead you down a dark path, one where you’re bound to be found out and everything will look worse on you if you choose that route.

If you’re starting in business make it your mantra, if you’ve been going a while, perhaps you need to revisit your thoughts on this and make sure your team(s) sing from the same sheet. My team at Optix know my feelings on being transparent and see-through. I believe in this digitally connected world, there is no place for business with dirty laundry.

photo courtesy of Urbanshoregirl

Now Your Thoughts

  • I’m very interested to hear if you have stories where you’ve owned up to a mistake and it’s paid off hugely.


  1. Andy Payne on 28th March 2012 at 11:52 am

    I totally agree with your client’s sentiments. I genuinely believe that transparency and honesty helps re-affirm your own client relationships with your business and contributes to a healthy work ethic by sharing both the rough and the smooth within your organisation. Gone are the days of the hard sell . . . thanks goodness! We tend to buy on referrals and recommendation and the only way to get those is to be honest, be your product and subscribe to a strong work ethic. Nice blog Alastair!

  2. Sophie Dennis on 28th March 2012 at 12:53 pm

    Very early in my career I worked for a company whose attitude was pretty much “Why tell the truth when a lie will do?”. I saw first hand how it poisoned business relationships, costing them valuable contracts and nearly taking the business with it.

    The key here is trust, which I believe is the most important asset a business can have. As Andy says, that’s what gets you repeat business, recommendations, referrals – as well as a more productive relationship with suppliers.

  3. chris simpson on 28th March 2012 at 2:41 pm

    I agree: transparency is key in business. Duedil – the company I work for encourages transparency and accountability within business by providing information (financial, director history etc) about every UK company, and for free..

    Check it out Al, as a business owner i’m sure you’ll find it a really useful tool – and is an interesting approach to honesty/transparency in business. http://www.duedil.com


    • Other Kris on 11th May 2012 at 6:42 pm

      Hey Chris.
      Big fans of Duedil here. Hope it’s all going well.


  4. Martin Langmaid on 28th March 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Totally agree with honesty and transparency in all interactions with everybody – whether it be your family, suppliers or clients.

    Absolutely hate it when a sales guy full of false promises from a supplier or integrator says they can do something or that they have done it before and then it becomes painfully obvious they don’t have a clue.

    As a client you become suspicious of everything they have done and said and that colours your relationship with them forever.

    We work on the basis that trust is hard earned and easily broken so don’t risk losing it in the first place.

    We own up to mistakes and are never afraid to say we don’t know something – how we then deal with these situations emphasises our capability to react and respond to the unforeseen which actually has value in itself and strengthens our relationships with our clients.

    We will take it a step further and actually turn down work that we’re not comfortable with – whilst always providing the customer with an alternative provider or solution recommendation.

    Our customers come back to us because of this honesty and because we form long term trusted partnerships with them.

    Trust is the key to all successful business relationships.

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