Legitimacy and Authority are two key principles upon which every successful business depends. If you do not have it, chances are great that your business will struggle for success. Why? Let’s look closely at what these building blocks do and how you can acquire them if they are missing in your business.
Legitimacy is conformity to laws or rules, as well as the ability to be defended with logic or justification; validity. Authority is similar but conveys the power or right to give orders, make decisions and enter binding agreements.
Every business must appear to be legal, conforming to laws or else it will appear to be risky, possibly illegal or criminal. If it does not conform to governing bodies, industry or approved association rules and standards when compared to other similar businesses then it will be seen as risky, perhaps a shoddy business. Often this leads customers to expect a discounted price or sub-standard product or service without the guarantees, warranty or level of quality we generally expect from “licensed, approved, authorized” providers of such services. You should convey legitimacy to your Customers as part of your marketing, internet and social media presence if you hope to compete in fairly in your markets. Authority is expressed when you are an Officer of the company such as the Chief Executive, VP of Finance or Sales, but it can also be implied from any position when you confirm that you have the authority and legitimacy to achieve the desired results. Legitimate Authority can be demonstrated from experience, education and practice with anecdotes and solid data. You generally do not expect to follow medical advice from someone not trained in the medical field or lacking requisite experience. Likewise, people will expect to understand what enables you to claim a certain level of expertise in a subject area. What credentials do you have which give you authority in this area? What successes have you had already. What do other customers say about you?
A degree, certificate, program completion, years of experience, practical applications and positive testimonials all go to support your legitimacy and authority which people can then rely on for the desired results from your products or services. These concepts must be conveyed to new customers or in the absence of apparent legitimacy or authority they may simply move on to someone who has conveyed these things more thoroughly or convincingly.
One example of building legitimacy is a person who faced with a particular problem began researching the problem, consulted with many specialists and experts in trying to solve the problem and perhaps completed their own study of the problem and implemented successful solutions, possibly after trying things that didn’t work. This effort now provides them not only a compelling story for their legitimacy and authority but the beginning of a “proof” for customers about how and why you should trust them for advice, that is, in order to avoid the trial and error failures based on this person’s experience. Additional, experience, education and successes are simply further proof confirming the legitimacy and authority of the business.