When you launch a new business you usually have an idea of how you want your market to see you, but how do you ensure you get what you want?

Reputation is based on what other people say about you – and word-of-mouth is an incredibly powerful tool.  While you can’t prevent people from gossiping, you can ensure that the information in the public domain about you is positive.  Better still, that it’s glowing!

This is easier said than done and I’ve had conversations with many business people who think it’s impossible to control what people say about you when you’re not there.  I don’t agree.

If your company has strong values, an inspired leader and staff who are engaged you find your reputation reflects that.  Not only do customers want the kind of service that kind of organisation delivers, but people want to work for you and you’ll get the pick of the best candidates.

It starts with a vision

Many small businesses are started because someone either has an idea that they think will make them a good living or has been made redundant and decided to see if they can go it alone.  There’s nothing wrong with either of these reasons for starting a business, but the danger is that the foundation stones are not laid to give the business a sound footing.

A true entrepreneur doesn’t leave success to chance and starts with a vision – that they then turn into a strategy and an action plan.  It’s important to be able to see the big picture and then have a plan to deliver that.

It’s especially important when you have staff.  To get real engagement your team need to buy into your vision, understand where the company is going and be ready to do their part in making it happen.

Involve your team

Everyone needs to be pulling in the same direction – which is why your business plan should be transparent.  If your team really get where you’re going, they can actively help you.  If you’re practising mushroom management (kept in the dark and fed crap)) don’t expect your team to have great ideas, be innovative or take responsibility for getting results.

Engagement only happens when members of your team feel they can make a difference.

Focus on results not tasks

When your business is focused on getting specific results, rather than simply carrying out the tasks on a to-do list, people become much more pro-active.

Empower your staff to make decisions as long as they are within given parameters (e.g. budget, ethics, values).  You’ll almost certainly be surprised at the improvement in productivity and job satisfaction.

Keep a light hand on the reins

You can’t abdicate all responsibility, but let your team be creative and innovative and you’ll build a company others will respect and revere.  A reputation for excellence is within your reach.