When you first “open the doors” or “hang out your shingle”, your business reputation is zero. Not until you have customers will you establish your reputation — for better or for worse. Scott Allen points out that reputation is a business’ single most valuable asset. What can you do to speed the process of building a positive reputation? Allen offers excellent tips, written for consultants, but really you can apply them to any business:
Be prolific – Use every opportunity to communicate with your public. If you can write, get expert articles published. If you can’t develop a PR campaign (see how in Guerilla Publicity) and get someone to write about you.
Be ubiquitous – Start networking. If you haven’t built a network, do it now. Attend mixers held by your Chamber of Commerce or business association, and get to know people in your community or market.
Be generous – Can you give away free samples? Do it. Or if you can’t, volunteer your time and talent. It’s an easy way to meet new people.
Be dependable – This doesn’t require any extra effort except to do what you say you will do. If everyone did it, who would notice? But everyone doesn’t. Be the one who is remembered for being dependable.
Be credible – If there is a certification that will be respected in your industry, get it. Join professional organizations or the Better Business Bureau.
For lots more ideas, read Allen’s post and its associated links.