5 Must-Know Reputation Perspectives for Every Entrepreneur
Entrepreneurs know that their success is determined by several factors. Of course, it all starts with the idea or product that will be brought to market. However, even the best idea or product will languish without an entrepreneur with a high level of confidence, organization, discipline and passion.
But, what’s missing from that launch list? Developing and maintaining a strong reputation!
Every entrepreneur must make reputation growth and management part of their daily habits. Reputation development should also be seen as a sustainability pillar in their short-term and long-term business plans. Failure is a strong possibility if it isn’t.
Social media platforms are a vital link for entrepreneurs to attract and retain venture capital, talent, lead generation and referrals. Entrepreneurs are using this global touchpoint to build their brand as well as identify assets and resources. But remember that social media is not a one-way street! Those who might be interested in associating with that entrepreneur are also using social media resources to check on their credibility, social feedback and the experiences of others before deciding whether or not to place bets on them.
Let’s not forget that people still use the analog version of reputation research by just asking and tapping into their personal networks to get real-time feedback.
An entrepreneur may have a great product, but if they develop a reputation for missing deadlines, being a poor leader, treating vendors with disrespect, mismanagement of capital, then even the best products will have a short lifecycle – with such a competitive marketplace who wants (or needs) to work with people like that?
Below are 5 must-know reputation perspectives for every entrepreneur to better protect and grow one of their greatest entrepreneurial assets.
- People associate themselves with another person based on two things – When trying to decide on whether or not to associate ourselves with another person, we often rely on two factors. The first is our previous experience with that person. We quickly go into our mental hard drive to retrieve experiences and determine whether those were positive or negative. If we have no previous engagement with that person, then we tend to rely on what others have to say. That is when we’ll tap into our personal or professional networks to gain perspective based on others’ experiences with that individual and the reputation that has been created. Simply stated, these are called referrals!! Both approaches are rooted in historical experiences that strongly reflect upon ones reputation.
- Reputations surround our identities and drive trust/connectivity – Whether we know it or not, like it or not or embrace it or not, our reputations surround who we are and are solidifying factors to our identities. Always remember that our reputations speak for us when we are not there to speak for ourselves. Just as our reputations are aligned with our identities, so does our reputation drive trust and allow us to connect with those who can help us. This often happens on a daily basis, if you think about it. Think back to a moment when you asked a friend or colleague to introduce you to someone whom you wanted to meet. When the introduction takes place, generally your friend or colleague will give a brief background on you, tell how long you’ve known each other and that you two should connect. In essence, vouching for you and your reputation. This is a critical connection to make for any entrepreneur looking to establish or grow their business.
- Our actions become our reputation footprints – Reputations aren’t always formed in one, movie-like moment. Realistically, our reputations are built like a stone wall – one stone at a time. And like that mason who is building that wall, so are entrepreneurs every day – with every action and interaction we have. Entrepreneurs must understand that proactive reputation management is a daily endeavor and is based upon the many decisions that they make. Remember that reputations are works in progress – and that progress is up to the individual.
- Reputations are rarely seen in an objective manner – We would all like to think that what we do and say would be seen in an objective manner – from many sides and each explained in order to present a true account for how a situation played out. The reality is that rarely happens. People see and digest information and experiences through their own filters, which creates a subjective perspective. This can obviously be frustrating because they may not know the entire story. However, that is when consistency becomes key. Sometimes entrepreneurs need to understand that there isn’t much they can do or say to change someone’s opinion of their reputation. They just need to keep staying true to their values and delivering consistent behavior.
- Only two ways to manage your reputation – Entrepreneurs can either manage their reputations in a reactive or proactive manner. This is not rocket science, but it’s amazing how many entrepreneurs skip this simple approach in order to focus on development deadlines, for example. In today’s socially connected economy, reputation issues are not a question of ‘if’, rather a realization that it’s a matter of ‘when’. After more than two decades of managing crisis situations, I’m a proponent of always being proactive. I’ve seen the benefits of being prepared, being mindful, being strategic and disciplined when it comes to managing reputations – for people as well as brands. The reactive approach will always put an entrepreneur on the defensive and, personally speaking, I’ve never made my best decisions when my back was against the wall!
As an entrepreneur, if you are serious about building your brand and business in this highly competitive reputation economy, then you must keep these 5 must-know reputation perspectives as part of your growth plan.