Your online reputation is probably only second in importance to prominence on the Internet.
People don’t buy from you unless they trust you.
There are many advisers, coaches and self-proclaimed gurus on the Internet, and some of them have such a prominence that their online footprint drowns out the competition. They usually have two things the small business owner does not have – deep pockets and teams who promote them around the clock.
If your reputation becomes just as prominent as your name, your business will only survive if you have a good reputation. If you have a bad online reputation, high prominence could kill your business. Many gurus have prominence but their reputation is difficult to evaluate because they use aggressive promotion to dictate what is visible on the Internet about them.
The small business owner does not have that luxury which means your reputation becomes more important than prominence.
You have little control over your reputation, but there is a way in which to control it. It is easy to define but difficult to attain, mainly because your reputation is largely dictated by the lowest common denominator. That dominator is the most negative testimonial available.
People use the worst testimonial to define what is the worst they can expect from your product or service. Then they use the other testimonials and information to balance the negative. If the balance between negative and positive views of your business is acceptable, they will do business with you.
Reputation is what the world thinks of you.
It is said that reputation is what people say of you when you are not present.
When you deal with clients or customers, reputation needs to be earned, but is eventually conferred by those who use your products or services. It means reputation must be earned every day.
Business owners try to manage their reputations by managing what information becomes public. That is an old attitude that were only effective where even small businesses could manipulate the flow of information by using advertising budgets and personal connections to influence what the local newspaper wrote about them.
On the Internet, you need to be very large and have very deep pockets to exercise that kind of control. Even then, success is not guaranteed.
The small business owner benefits more from avoiding the use of tricks, and aiming for delivering a product or service that makes a good story which clients want to spread. It is in fact the preferred method because small business owners cannot divest themselves from their business as easily as the owner of a multi national business. A small business is such an integral part of who the small business owner is, that the two becomes one. That is why small business owners often experience criticism of their business as personal criticism.