In an increasingly crowded market, how can you stand apart and distinguish yourself? The answer: Building Reputational Capital.
What is reputational capital?
Reputational capital is the sum of how both your customers and employees perceive yourself and your business. It is a measure of your actions, their outcomes and how willing someone is to trust or help you.
“The best way to view reputational capital is as if it is a real-world currency.”
The best way to view reputational capital is as if it is a real-world currency.
Every positive action you take, every promise kept and every satisfied customer increases the value of your reputational capital. Conversely, every angry customer, broken promise and bad move you make depletes your reputational capital. Thus, as a business owner, you need to jealously guard and constantly build upon your reputational capital.
The more you develop this reputational capital, the more you will stand out and the more likely you are to build a successful business.
“A business with strong reputational capital is much better suited to weather a crisis or blatant mistake.”
Building reputational capital is a process that takes time. It does not happen overnight. Building a good reputation takes years, but it is worth the effort.
Conversely, while it may take years to accumulate a fair amount of reputational capital, there are some things you can do to hasten the process.
Behaving ethically is a rule that should go without saying.
Acting ethically is both the morally correct thing to do and good for business. No one wants to work with a company that lies and steals. No one wants to work with people who cheat and behave opportunistically. No customer wants to purchase goods and services from a company that cheats its customers.
Deliver on your promises
It is not enough to simply behave ethically. One must also be able to deliver on their promises.
You can have the best products and services but if people do not get what they expect from you, it does not matter. Your brand needs to follow-through with everything it promises.
Every fulfilled promise represents a little bit more trust from your customers, and every broken promise takes away from your credibility and reputation.
“Establishing yourself as thought leader is one of the most effective ways to build your reputational capital.”
Establish thought leadership
Establishing yourself as thought leader is one of the most effective ways to build your reputational capital. Becoming a thought leader means that your peers and customers regard you as an expert in your field. Your voice is respected and your opinions matter.
One way to establish thought leadership is by interacting with your business community by writing articles and blog posts about your area of expertise. The more you get your voice out there, the more people will start to listen to you.
“Good business reputations are earned, not given.”
Although it takes time to build up reputational capital, time is not always on your side.
It is paramount that, as an entrepreneur, you take concerted steps towards building your reputation. Creating a strong and reliable reputation is an attainable goal for almost anyone willing to put in the time and effort.
Michel Ouellette / Joseph Michael Dennis, is a former attorney, a Trial Scientist, a Crisis & Reputation Management Expert, a Public Affairs & Corporate Communications Specialist, a Warrior for Common Sense and Free Speech.