You can say anything you want about Warren Buffett, but one thing is for sure—the man knows how to make money and that is why it is a good idea to listen to what the man has to say.
Among other things, he says, It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.
And while small businesses do not exactly have twenty years to build up their reputation, it is just as important as one that has been allowed to percolate for two decades. Also, the five-minutes needed to destroy goes for small businesses, too.
In other words, small businesses have to be extra serious about building their reputation, especially in this climate where an enormous number is being launched indiscriminately as if it was a golden ticket to fame and fortune (which it rarely is, unfortunately).
Establish a Core Idea
This may sound like a really “startuppy” concept, but a core idea is the start of creating your small business’s reputation, for a number of reasons.
First of all, it will give your new endeavor some weight, something besides its name and the product or service that it is about. For example, you might be working on a tool that will be used in email marketing. There are dozens of companies working on something similar and a cool, quirky name is not enough to set you apart.
You need an idea that will resonate with people and set your brand apart.
Your small business can, for example, provide the tool for free for educational and healthcare organizations when they are doing their fundraising campaigns. Or, your core idea may be to spend half of your profits above certain revenue on charity. Or it can be something in a completely other direction. For instance, you may decide to only hire people who come from less well-off parts of the city or the country. Or, you may set yourself apart as the most open and flat organization that has ever been.
This kind of an identity can go a long ways to not only setting you apart from your many competitors, but also to getting you in the media. This will be local media and your local incubator at first, but as time goes by, who is to say that you will not garner wider recognition and attention?
In addition to directly raising your profile and reputation, this core idea will also be a great tool in having a focus that many small businesses lack and that leads to lapses and bad decisions that directly and indirectly affect their reputation. Furthermore, with a core set of values, it will be much easier to have a homogenous team that is working towards a common goal, which can be quite difficult to do in a smaller company.
You should also ensure that these core values are something you will be able to stick with even when the realities of growing your business start to settle in sometime in the future.
When you read an article that mentions an interesting-sounding small business, what is the first thing you do? You do a bit of research.
You Google them. You visit their website. You spend ten or fifteen minutes reading their blog. You check on social media. If you have contacts in the industry, perhaps you talk to them and try to find out about this new small business (if you’re really interested).
Investors do even more research than customers and it goes much deeper than this.
A company that is nowhere to be found is immediately hurting its reputation. If they are that great, why doesn’t anyone talk about them? Why don’t they post on social media? Why are they not attending meetups? Why are they not at industry trade shows?
As you can see, being everywhere as a small business really means being everywhere – both online and offline. While the vast majority of small businesses remember to be present online, there are many that forget about the offline world; the world of meetups, trade shows and other networking opportunities where they can raise their profile and even get some new insights into competition and ideas for future moves.
Be present. Be incessant. You need to cut through the noise.
Author: Dan Radak is a marketing professional with eleven years of experience. He is a coauthor on several websites and regular contributor to BizzMark Blog. Currently, he is working with a number of companies in the field of digital marketing, closely collaborating with a couple of e-commerce companies.