The best feeling in business is when you start your own company, develop it to the size that suits your own needs and make others believe in its success just like you do. I cannot exactly call myself an entrepreneur but after developing two markets for Grayling from scratch -Serbia and Qatar– I can certainly claim to know a humble bit about being entrepreneurial. Concept, financing, business plan- they all matter and are a condition sine qua non for a successful self-created business. However, what gives us a drive to develop and expand business is its good reputation on the market. Here are a few, hopefully useful, recommendations on how to build a positive reputation in a competitive business environment:
1. Introduce communication and marketing as a core business function
It is never too early to make this step in the process of the business establishment. Marketing your business and its products or services is equally important as actually delivering them to end users. At the beginning your business will be one of many- the end goal is to become the best of many.
2. Seek expert advice
Understandably so, your budgets are minimal, but a bad communications or marketing advice could be far more expensive than the right strategic advice given by a communications professional who has done it before. The scale of tactical communication projects should and can be determined by your budget and the envisaged scale of business
3. Choose the right people to work with and keep them involved
Good reputation comes from within. As one of the pioneers of entrepreneurship, YouTube co-founder Chad Hurley, said recently in Doha that the right team with a similar ambition and work ethics is a key to a successful startup. However, such a team will only follow your business idea if they are fully engaged in its evolution, and if they have ability to convey the business message to external stakeholders with the same passion that you do.
4. Talk to customers and other stakeholders in a transparent and honest fashion
In desire to sell the product or service we all tend to overpromise and extend the reach of our offering beyond possible. If you are employing three people, refrain from presenting the virtual team of 15 people. That mathematics could sound impressive during the first presentation but is not helpful or sustainable on a long run. And remember, each private business is not a sprint but rather a marathon.
5. Staying on-message
It’s very important to be clear about the composition of the statement that describes your core business. In communications and PR business we call that the “key message”. It should be simple and understandable to your senior family members. Only if that is the case, then you can be sure that your message is the right one, and when it is repeated in a consistent manner it will penetrate down to right audiences. Remember, the key message is a repetitive category, and the goal is for it to stick with stakeholders.
At the end of the day, it is all about your own passion for your startup and how you project it on others. Communication brings your business to life, it shapes its reputation, and affects your employees, customers, and regulators. Online or offline (through traditional media channels), it is simply a constituent part of your business plan.