Is your reputation adding value – or costing you business?

Trust in business leaders continues to be at a low ebb as the tough economic climate continues, with only the likes of politicians and journalists having a tougher time convincing people of their veracity!

In the most recent IPSOS MORI Trust in Professions survey the number of people who felt business leaders told the truth was just 29% – putting them fourth from bottom among 16 different groups about whom opinions were sought.

And with major organisations like Starbucks continuing to fall publicly from grace through actions that, whilst perfectly legal, serve to severely dent customer perceptions of them, it’s hard to see how that position is going to change any time soon.

But in the day-to-day slog of growing a small to medium sized business it’s all too easy to view this as something that only affects big businesses like Starbucks. The reality is that it is as much your problem as any other CEO or MD and, as the leader of a business, it’s critical to understand that your reputation will affect your revenue if it isn’t exactly what you need it to be for the future of your business. Only if you understand clearly how you are perceived can you be certain that you have a reputation that is adding to your bottom line, not taking business away from it.

It’s not always through high profile acts, incidents or disasters either. How often have you found yourself in conversation talking about other business people you know?

  • “I like her; we should do a deal with her company”
  • “They’re unreliable, they never deliver on time”
  • “She talks a good game but will shaft you in the end”
  • “He’s doing some good work at that company, the service is excellent”.

These are the kinds of neat summaries of individual and business reputations that are passed between colleagues every day.

Smart business leaders spend time and energy developing their reputation. They understand that a great reputation is built, over time, through disciplined and consistent behaviour that is also translated into the products and services of their companies.

They appreciate that they are the chief cheerleader for their business and must uphold its values at all times. They know that the way they are perceived by their stakeholders, be they customer, employees, suppliers, investors or neighbours, has a direct link to profitability and growth prospects.

What’s your reputation doing to your bottom line?