8 Ways to Build the Reputation of your Fledgling Startup Business
There’s a reason startups generally don’t have very good reputations: Inherently, nobody knows who they are! Outside of cases where a startup is founded by or employs someone with a proven pedigree, or maybe is working with a known partner who can vouch for them, you’re starting from square one when it comes to building a reputation. And while there’s no avoiding the hard work that comes in getting that respect, there are steps you can take to quickly and effectively raise the perception of your startup business. Here are our tips.
You’re Never Truly Starting from Scratch
Sure, no one might be familiar with your company’s name, or what you do, but anyone and everyone involved in your startup has a story, and those stories can help you get a foot in the door. Education, previous employment, special skills of your team: These things vouch for your qualifications and they matter to people potentially looking to work with you. It’s a lot like a job interview in that way. Be prepared to speak on them when courting new business.
Find Your Voice and Your Audience
If you haven’t done this already, it’s crucial to establish who you are and who you serve quickly. This helps you answer a lot of questions, both internal and external, so you’re never caught flat footed. People can often tell the difference between a startup that’s floundering and one that’s focused. And they’ll always prefer the latter.
While there are definitely times you can and should pivot, the initial startup stage is rarely one of them, especially if you’re trying to build a reputation. With consistency comes trust. And with trust comes more opportunities.
Don’t Skimp On Your Website
Your website is often your first impression with the world, what do you want it to say about your startup? A website doesn’t have to be expensive, but it does need to be professional. High-quality photography, clear contact info and a strong mission statement will take you far. Add other features and design updates as necessary.
Build Your Digital Reputation
Social media is a huge opportunity, but also a big risk. It can be a place to converse with and learn from your audience as well as a place to promote upcoming projects. But it can also be a PR minefield. Make sure your established voice is coming through on your social channels and try to plan ahead rather than reacting to whatever’s hot in the news that day.
For most businesses, building an online presence should go beyond traditional social media. Think about business listings in your specific industry. For many startups, this can include building out profiles on directories such as Crunchbase. In addition, there are often regional lists of startups that can provide a venue to get your startup listed. At the end of the day, you want your startup to pass the “Google” test — when potential employers or investors search your company name, does what they find reinforce your brand vision?
No one likes to be left hanging. If someone messages you through social, email or a phone call, it’s important to get back to them in an appropriate amount of time. Even if your response is to decline, people appreciate knowing they were heard over wondering if they were ignored.
Don’t Get Defensive
Nobody’s perfect, which means your startup isn’t either. When you make a mistake, own up to it and promise to do better. When someone informs you of an issue, don’t automatically dismiss it. There’s a lot to be learned from feedback, even if it’s not entirely true.
Keep Working at It
Building a reputation is not a quick process. It’s something you continually need to spend time nurturing. Keep doing good work. Keep being friendly. And when you build trust with one entity, utilize it to help build trust with the next one. Before you know it, you’ll be the talk of the town!