Your business image is never something that remains static and unchanged. It’s something that is informed by the most recent thing affecting it. It’s not a single perceptual being either, as many different people will keep many different attitudes regarding its reputation. For this reason, it can be troubling and confusing in your attempts to maintain it. If you’re a relatively new entrepreneur, you might be overwhelmed with possibility regarding how to solve these issues. You’d be forgiven for thinking this way, because it’s not as if an entrepreneur has little on their mind. Still, if you hope to continually maintain your offerings and the things you wish to accomplish, then it does pay to keep watch over how your image is being affected.
Your image will influence everything you do from here on out. From developing your products to appealing to investors to taking on shareholders and business partners. It also directly affects the quality of staff interested in working for you, and the potential success of your efforts to expand abroad. If you’re an entrepreneur with little to your name, it could mean the difference between those first few connections trusting you or throwing you to one side.
The small moments matter when it comes to improving your business image, because they add up. For further exploration of what this means and how you can take advantage of it, consult the following advice:
Of course, your business image, and the strength of this, will determine the business connections you are able to make. From investing to advertising to appealing to a said consumer, everything matters from this perspective. However, it’s not only the connections you hope to make that should be treated with importance. The connections you already have speak volumes regarding your firm’s reputational health. For example, opening a business with a partner who may have bad credit, who may have just come from their own failed company, or who have a negative public persona could contribute in warding off potential investors.
It could be that you small operation is not currently able to hire support staff to communicate with your early pool of consumers. You might not have the time to take care of this either, because an entrepreneur often has at least one million things to do before they can finish their day. If you attempt to take on multiple roles without caring for how far you are stretching yourself, you are likely to ruin everything you touch, especially socially. In this case, hiring virtual services to answer your telephones or opting for instant messaging services can allow you more utility over how you communicate, and the professionalism buffer between you and your customer.
Whenever opening a new connection with someone allied with your business, consider taking into account how their reputation can affect yours. This is true for investors you take on, partners you become affiliated with, donations you accept and events you sponsor. Sometimes ‘no’ is the best option when preserving your integrity, as this can benefit you in the eyes of the public, media and free market at some point in the future.
Avoiding controversy or a scandal is something that many businesses don’t actually pursue. After all, it’s never intentional for these things to happen for the most part. However, it’s important to know how every movement you make can be perceived by the public. Assume that things can always be taken out of context. Journalists sometimes even try to craft stories when they’re not the most accurately articulated in order to gain relevance in their own field.
How might this be presented using a concrete example? Well, let’s say you’re a sustainable and health food oriented new restaurant chain, offering franchises across the country. As part of your offerings, you also sell own-brand products such as healthy sandwiches or drinks. Let’s say that the production of something, such as the cans with plastic rings for storage, are known to be harmful to sea life and directly contradict the public image of your firm. You have three options here. Either you hope no one picks up on this, and you try to ignore any controversy. If not, you might consider preemptively crafting your statement detailing why and how you use this to facilitate your storage. Third, you look for methods to change your current operation to prevent this from happening. All three might be suitable in certain circumstances. This is a limited example, but you can see how this might affect you in a multitude of ways as a public firm.
The best way around this is excellent PR, but active PR that can inspect and improve issues instead of simply trying to cover them up or justify them. With the right staff behind you, you can preserve your public image even in scenarios which might be considered less-than-ideal from a public perspective. If controversy does hit in an accidental way, having the deft ability to craft your statement and knowing where to make reparations can go a long way in keeping your firm as one who seems (and does!) care.
Remember, as the leader of your business, you are part of your business image. This is true whether you are working or at home. Of course, it might not be that the public knows who you are, but recognizes your brand in the areas to which you cater. This doesn’t mean public perception is all that matters. It could be that your conduct turns off a skilled worker from applying to your firm. It could be it attracts them.
Remember that your demeanour, the words you choose and your ability to speak truthfully should all contribute to an aura of respect that permeates your firm from a reputational level. With the presence of social media and online forums, you should always assume that the inmost atmosphere of your firm is being discussed (even when it might not be.) This allows you to tailor your conduct in a more appropriate capacity.
With these tips, you can be sure that all small moments will contribute to a healthy and well-received business.
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Vinh Van Lam & Stuart Horrex
Your Creative Coaches @ CoSydney & ArtSHINE industries