Building lasting trust in your MSME: the consistency factor


“Trust is the currency for riches. In today’s business world, if you can’t be trusted, you don’t have a business.” Bernard Kelvin Clive

Can someone always hit a home-run?

Have you ever had a meal at a restaurant that was so incredibly tasty you couldn’t stop thinking about it and kept going back for more? But then the next time you ordered it, it just didn’t taste as good as you remembered.

In simple terms, hitting a home-run every time is difficult, and sometimes a meal you love at a restaurant may not taste as good when you order it again.

Today, I’d like to stress the importance of upholding both consistency and credibility in your business – particularly concerning your brand. Allow me to illustrate this with two stories:

I have two friends who specialise in preparing fruit-juices that I frequently order. I firmly believe in supporting the endeavours of friends, especially when they create exceptional products. Jonathan produces pineapple-ginger beverages for me, while Pearl makes Sobolo drinks. I’ve been a long-time patron of their services and even recommended them to others.

Pearl has been preparing nice bissap juice – a refreshing sobolo beverage that I truly enjoy. Its exceptional quality is so amazing that once someone tastes it, they can’t resist ordering more. I consistently kept my fridge stocked with it, making it a delightful choice for gatherings with friends. They, too, became fans. However, as time passed I noticed a significant change. The unique flavour I had grown to love started to fluctuate. When I ordered it one week and then again a week or two later, the taste and even the colour appeared noticeably different. This left me worried, and my friends also began to notice that the drink we were enjoying was not consistent with the original one we had come to love. What changed?

Jonathan, on the other hand, faced a different consistency challenge. He had no means of preserving his pineapples, so he only produced his juice when pineapples were in season – which was a significant drawback to his business. Despite this, his pineapple-ginger juice always tasted the same. It was only once when the taste had changed, and I mentioned it to him, that he explained he knew what had happened. He had used a different kind of ginger, which was unlike what he usually used. He understood what maintained the consistent taste of his juice, preserving the quality that his clients desired. I applauded him for that.

Nonetheless, it became apparent that Pearl was struggling to maintain the consistent quality of her product, possibly due to various factors. This experience led me to reflect on the standards, consistency and value that local business owners like us produce through our products and services.

The crux of the matter is this: when you closely examine major brands and beverage giants such as Coca-Cola and KFC, you’ll notice that their formulas remain consistent…with minimal variations over time.

They unwaveringly maintain high-quality standards. In contrast, the challenge for most local micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs), especially in the food and beverage industry, lies in their pursuit of sustaining a consistent level of quality in their products and services.

The issue Pearl faced in her juice business primarily stemmed from the fact that despite her expertise in preparing the juice, she lacked an effective method for precisely measuring the quantities of various ingredients she used. She would mix her ingredients in different quantities or batches, but her process lacked proper documentation and structure. This made it challenging for her to consistently deliver the same quality and taste. On the other hand, Jonathan had mastered the art of proper documentation, something I believe all small businesses can learn and put into practice.

The primary challenge Pearl faced was the absence of proper documentation.

From their challenges, there are some key pointers for all of us to take instructions from. First and foremost, to consistently provide value to your customers and run a successful business, it’s imperative to document your processes. This involves creating well-structured documents that detail what you do, whether it’s the production of beverages or maintaining quality in your business operations. These documents serve as a foundation for the standards you aim to uphold.

Once you’ve documented these standards, they become the benchmark against which you measure quality. If a product or service doesn’t meet these documented standards, it shouldn’t be delivered. This commitment to upholding your brand’s quality is pivotal. In essence, documentation aligns with high standards; and you must ensure that your processes consistently meet these standards.

Next is to ensure that your documented standards are consistently upheld in all aspects of your business. This ensures that your products or services are delivered as promised.

Furthermore, these standards must be consistently maintained. In the event of a failure to meet these standards, or if a product has been delivered that doesn’t align with the documented quality, it’s important to take immediate action. Apologise, recall and make amends whenever necessary. The goal isn’t rushing production just to meet sales quotas. If customers start noticing a decline in the regular taste, design or quality of your products and services, trust and business will be lost.

For instance, one of my friends reached a point where he stopped consuming the juice because it no longer possessed the unique quality he initially fell in love with. It began to resemble the generic ones available in the market. We encouraged her to document and structure her ingredients and processes meticulously. This way, she could recapture the original taste of her bissap-juice or sobolo – and it worked.

This lesson applies to all of us, whether we’re small business owners or providers of tailor-made services such as seamstresses. Consistency in quality is achieved by adhering to well-documented processes. Document your original processes, possibly even patent your unique findings as trade secrets, and ensure that structured processes are followed consistently. You see, when you stick to keeping your promises and delivering value, your brand will remain desirable and attract more clients and customers. Let’s learn from the mistakes of these small business owners and strive to keep our brands top-notch.

Key actionable steps:

  1. Document Your Processes: Start by documenting your business processes in a structured manner. Your documentation should detail how you produce your products or deliver your services. Having clear, well-structured documents is the foundation for maintaining quality.
  2. Set Standards: Use your documented processes to set clear standards for your products or services. These standards become the benchmarks against which you measure quality. If a product or service doesn’t meet these documented standards, it should not be delivered to customers.
  3. Consistent Adherence: Ensure that all aspects of your business consistently adhere to the documented standards. It may include your production processes, quality control and service delivery. Consistency is essential to building and maintaining trust with your customers.
  4. Monitor Quality: Regularly monitor the quality of your products or services to ensure they meet the established standards. This might involve quality control checks, taste tests or other measures, depending on your business.
  5. Immediate Action: If a deviation from standards occurs, or if a subpar product or service is delivered, take immediate action. It may demand apologising to the customer, recalling the product and making amends as necessary. Customer trust is built by addressing issues promptly and effectively.
  6. Trade Secrets Protection: Consider protecting your unique findings and processes as trade secrets. Doing this can help you maintain a competitive edge and prevent others from replicating your success.
  7. Maintain Brand Reputation: Recognise the importance of maintaining a strong brand reputation. Customers associate your brand with quality, and a consistent level of quality will attract and retain more clients and customers.
  8. Learn from Mistakes: When you falter, find the lessons in it and move on. In all, have a growth mindset and keep learning and bettering your best.

Bernard is a multi-talented individual who has made a name for himself as a leading authority on personal branding and digital book-publishing in Africa. With over 50 published books, he is an Amazon best-selling author.

To learn more about Bernard and his work, visit

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