Startups

Maryland’s Better Business Bureau wants to help entrepreneurs build trust from the start

The BBB Maryland Foundation is rolling out a new program at local incubators to educate startup founders on ethics.

Baltimore from above. (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The foundation tied to the Better Business Bureau of Greater Maryland has a new name, and focus on entrepreneurs.
The BBB Maryland Foundation launched in April with a mission of helping entrepreneurs build ethical business. According to BBB Maryland CEO Angie Barnett, the foundation looked at the business landscape among new businesses and saw lots of growth, as well as the growth of incubators, accelerators and makerspaces across many disciplines, including tech.
Drawing on years of work as a third-party mediating disputes between customers and businesses the organization created a curriculum called Building Better Business Behavior, or B4. The 100-year-old organization’s team realized they had real-life examples to offer that could be instructive “when a business is formed, as opposed to waiting until there’s a problem with the business,” Barnett said.
The goal is to help entrepreneurs build trust with the people who will help them grow. Whether it’s customers, employees or investors, trust will make people more likely to be “willing to put time, money and energy into this business and be a part of its success,” Barnett said. “Trust till matters, and research shows trust matters more today.”
BBB has been working with community managers at incubators in Baltimore to give workshops. Since late 2016, Barnett said BBB has presented the curriculum at Spark Baltimore, Impact Hub Baltimore and Homebase Works. It’s free of charge for the spaces, she said.
Along with helping entrepreneurs, they’re collecting feedback from the sessions and fine-tuning. Barnett said new tools could also be introduced in the future to provide that education in the future.

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