10 Simple Ways To Build A Strong Business Reputation

We asked 10 entrepreneurs to share how they get people to "know, like and trust" their businesses. Here's what they had to say.

In business, especially for startups and small businesses, your reputation is everything. Shaun Walker, Creative Director and co-founder of marketing and public Relations firm HEROfarm agrees: “In today’s world, we’re all worried about perception, and rightfully so. Likability is what everyone wants and is at the forefront of our day-to-day interaction, even for businesses.”

But the reality is this: “Most companies, however, do an inadequate job of managing their reputations in general and the risks to their reputations in particular.” Harvard Business Review suggests, “Effectively managing reputational risk begins with recognizing that reputation is a matter of perception.” But what are the most simple and effective ways to manage perception?

We asked 10 entrepreneurs to share how they get people to “know, like and trust” their businesses. Here’s what they had to say.


1. Networking is key

Networking is key and […] be as active possible.” You can network by “joining professional groups and boards, going to events, donating time to charities, speaking at public events, giving presentations and guest lectures. Make it seem like you are everywhere at all times. The more you put yourself out there […] the more name recognition you earn.” Ultimately, you gain “that incredibly important third party validation.”

— Shaun Walker, Creative Director and co-founder of HEROfarm


Business reputation tips for entrepreneurs
Photo: © santypan, YFS Magazine


2. Be hands-on and attentive

“I try to be at every meeting with all clients, and constantly ask them for feedback and make sure they are happy. I also like to build personal relationships (brushing against, but not crossing the line of friendship) with them and their staff.”

— Warren H. Cohn, founder/CEO and Managing Partner of HeraldPR


3. Know when to turn down business

“Taking on a client simply for the dollar, knowing that you can’t help them is unethical. In addition, I have had companies come back to me after I have referred them to another company, thanking me for my honesty. And, then they have retained my business to help with their respective opportunity or challenge… Word of mouth travels fast in the Washington, DC metro area. I would rather someone speak kindly of my business than state I had ripped them off.”

— Rusty FosterPresident of Bow Tie Strategies


4. Create and distribute quality content

“Become a contributor to respected industry sites: How did I become one of the most recognizable experts in the cord cutting niche? One of the primary ways was by contributing to respected industry sites. Whether they focus on products in your niche or news, blogging elsewhere gets your name and work in front of new audiences. Not only does this increase awareness, but it causes people to perceive you as a trusted expert in the field.”

— Chris Brantner, founder of CutCableToday.com


Photo: © GaudiLab, YFS Magazine


4. Be honest, always

“Never lie about anything — if you don’t know something say it! It’s always better to say I don’t know than yes and coming up short. The classic line ‘under-promise, over-deliver’ is very applicable here.”

— Brock Murray, COO at seoplus+


5. Put a face to your name

“In the digital age, face-to-face and on-the-phone meetings are more important than ever! My best and longest-term client relationships all began with either an in-person connection or a word-of-mouth referral.”

— Nancy A. Shenker, Founder and CEO of theONswitch


6. Ask contacts to put in a good word

“As a young entrepreneur, 24, getting people to trust me was a challenge. The best way I found to alleviate this was to network feverishly and ask the people I met for introductions to people in their network that may need PR support. I found that introductions from a trusted friend or business associate sped up the sales cycle.”

— Sabrina Wottreng, Publicist and Owner of Sabrina Wottreng Public Relations


Photo: © LazorPhotography, YFS Magazine


7. Excel in customer service

“…Offer incredibly personal and expedient customer service, not only in helping customers resolve inquiries with their orders, but also providing them with helpful advice and friendly conversation. To earn customers’ trust, we believe that we should treat each individual customer as our most important and most valued customer.”

— Gary Li, CEO of FortheChef


8. Make philanthropy a priority

“Operating multiple successful restaurant establishments is nearly impossible without having a solid reputation in the community. This is possible through our many philanthropic efforts that reveal the human faces behind the Eschelon brand. We work annually with their four local core nonprofit partners…contributing more than $82K to the community last year alone. These acts don’t just benefit the community financially, it motivates them to visit reputable food havens to learn more about the causes they represent, and to support a business with civic responsibility at top-of-mind.”

— Gaurav ‘G’ Patel, President and founder of Eschelon Experiences


9. Take ownership

“In the end, building a good reputation is directly connected to being accountable and taking charge of whatever the situation – having to share bad news, raising your hand to tackle a tough assignment, probing to find out what’s really bothering someone – are all related to an entrepreneur’s willingness to take ownership.”

— Jeanne Achille, founder and CEO of The Devon Group


10. Be human

“People want to do business with people, not brands. Focus on activities that humanize your company like building a personal brand for yourself, attending networking events and representing your company in person, demonstrating transparency in your website copy (being honest about pricing, your competition, and your industry), and being yourself on social media. You are the face of your business, so be proud of what you’ve built. People will have a larger opportunity to know, like and trust someone they can see.”

— Shana Haynie, Co-Founder and Creative Director of Vulpine Interactive


Final thoughts

Ultimately, your business reputation can only carry you as far as your product or service. None of this matters if you don’t deliver legitimate value. “When your business delivers legitimate value, consumers will become passionate about your brand,” says Lisa Chu, the Owner of Black N Bianco Kids Apparel.

“Building trust for your business will take time. Consumers need to see a good track record of your business consistently offering great products and service. Genuine customer reviews and testimonials can help build credibility and trust for your business. When you combine [this] with transparency your business will build legitimacy in your industry which leads to real success.”


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