Warren Buffett once said that “it takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” Quotes like these, while maybe not always completely accurate, are extremely insightful. A reputation is something that needs to be consciously built and then guarded vigilantly. Things happen in life that can destroy a reputation that has taken decades to be grown, shaped and shepherded through years of struggles, obstacles and setbacks.
For those starting out in business, reputations are especially important to not only attract customers or potential investors, but also to put your young company on a sustainable path to growth and success. Here are a few tips to help legally build a powerful start-up reputation quickly.
1. Pull those bootstraps
In the world of startups, bootstrapping occurs at the outset, when people start new businesses without taking out loans or accepting money from outside investors. They rely on their own resources not just to start and grow the business, but to sustain themselves and their team while doing it. Bootstrapping is a point of pride among many companies and their founders, and it is a quick way to show people that you are a serious business person, and not someone to trifle with. This means not constantly shopping a company or idea to potential investors, but going quietly about your business in more unassuming fashion. You can either live cheaply while building your company or continue working for an outside income, even in a freelance or consulting capacity.
2. Don’t borrow
While this is partially included by bootstrapping, its importance warrants special attention. Not only do you want to avoid soliciting or accepting money from outside investors, but you should also forgo any loans or running up credit card debt. Even small private loans from friends or family can be detrimental to both your finances and your reputation, although they are still preferable to bank loans. If friends or family really want to help, allowing you to live rent free is far better than cash, as it’s more consistent with the bootstrapping mentality that you want to foster.
3. Surround yourself with competent advisory
While some individuals become the face of a large enterprise, successful companies aren’t built by a single person; nor do successful people shape themselves entirely. If you want to develop a strong reputation in business, don’t skimp on legal or accounting work related to your company. Also, develop a stable of relevant mentors and advisors who can help develop your knowledge and perspective. These can be people active in venture capital, angel investors, or executives at other companies including client companies or vendors. Developing relationships with other leaders will boost your own credentials.
4. Form strategic partnerships
Seek out alliances with companies that have interests particularly well-aligned with yours. These may be large clients or vendors of yours, or even other companies operating in the same industry. You might also consider getting involved with philanthropic or civic activities that are aligned with your business and personal interests. This can help to grow your circle of influence, further developing your reputation in business.
5. Don’t screw up
At the risk of stating the obvious, make sure you keep your business and personal activities strictly above board. Get all the proper licenses for your business, even before you absolutely need to. Pay all your taxes. As a founder, keep your nose clean, and make sure that you surround yourself with people who do the same. Avoid scandal, or even controversy in both business and your personal life. This means avoiding rash posts on social media; even paying your rent on time. Don’t do anything that you wanted to be published on the front page of the local newspaper; because while it may not be, the impact will be the same.
It is essential for anyone in business – at any level – to foster and protect their reputation. It will not only contribute to their success, but also speak to their character and integrity. A strong reputation will establish them as a respectable person in their community and in their industry. The building of a powerful reputation, especially at the outset of a new business venture, is no easy task. Following the suggestions above will help to set someone on the right track to a powerful reputation quickly and legally.
About Author: Sara Waterson – A Suffolk native, Sara has been writing for Net Lawman after graduating at the top of her class at the University of Nottingham. She is passionate about law and seeks to educate her readers to the best of her ability. In her spare time, Sara loves to spend time walking in the local countryside with her partner and two dogs.