Small and medium size businesses are so preoccupied with chasing sales that they just don’t seem to have the head space to consider reputation management. The problem is that this ‘chasing the buck’ mentality eventually crystallises into the worst kind of ‘evil capitalist’ business culture which in the long term is value destructive, and it is so short sighted that it ignores the fact that if they spent the time building their reputation, revenue would be flowing towards them rather than them having to go and hunt it down.
All the research shows that companies with higher reputations perform better and are valued higher so it really is a no brainer! The problem is that entrepreneurs don’t understand what reputation is all about and how to go about building and nurturing it.
This raises the debate around the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship programmes currently available, as so brilliantly analysed in ‘Unicorns, Gazelles and Leapfrogs: a discussion paper on accelerating the South African start-up ecosystem towards world class’. In my opinion, there are simply too many incubators churning out too many improperly trained entrepreneurs simply because B-BBEE legislation has created an enterprise and supplier development sausage factory.
Finding a bright young graduate, giving her some basic business training, helping her land a contract and / or plugging her into a supply chain does not mean you have achieved economic transformation. That will only come when we are building sustainable businesses that are capable of generating economic AND social capital, which is directly related to reputation!
So what should small and medium sized businesses be doing to grow their reputations? The short answer is, a lot.
I will be exploring each of these suggestions in more detail over the coming weeks so be sure to sign up to make sure you don’t miss out on any of them, but in the meantime, here is my quick list to get you thinking:
What you need to grow your reputation (and bottom line):
- A business strategy grounded in shared value creation with demonstrable positive social impact
- Visible and credible leaders who understand that there are more stakeholders than shareholders
- A radically honest approach to communications that builds relationships rather than just broadcasts messages
- Water tight compliance, governance & risk management structures
- Truly engaged employees and a culture in which rotten apples never get the chance to infect the team
- Thought leadership
If you can’t wait for my future pearls of wisdom you can of course get in touch with me directly and we can get the conversation started immediately.