As a business owner and coach, I come across the issue of building integrity and reputation on a daily basis. It is something I feel strongly about, as who can build a business without integrity and a good reputation. As business owners, we know that if we want repeat business and referrals (both of which are the foundation of growing our business) then we need to include integrity and reputation in everything we do. Now, this may sound like common sense, but sometimes business owners forget these 2 important key concepts and make a mistake. That one mistake, let’s call it a step forward, can take their business back 20 steps. From time to time, it may take them so far back that they won’t be able to recover and their business will fold. So how can we, as business owners ensure that we are continually moving forward in building our integrity and reputation in a positive light? Actually, if we remember a few simple “rules, ” then we can continue to build and grow.
Rule 1- Always be timely.
I know, this sounds like common sense, but how many times have you been told something, and it has not been carried through. For example, you ordered a birthday present and it was promised you would receive it in 2 days (1 day before the birthday), and then not received it for 4 days. Now you don’t have the gift to give because someone was not timely. This is a simple example but I as a business owner live by this rule. In fact, if I tell someone I will have their project to them by a certain time, I shoot for 24 hours before. Why do I do this? What happens if I plan to send it to them when it is due, but oops, my hard drive crashes? They don’t get the project on time-even though it was finished in advance, and it puts them behind. This does not help my integrity or reputation, and it will probably affect if the client will do business with me again, or not.
Now, all of us understand that acts of God can interfere with our work or we can make a mistake (after all, we are all human). It’s bound to happen sometime. So what do we do?
Rule 2- Always be honest.
This is a hard rule to live by, because sometimes you are so ashamed of your mistake, you don’t want to admit your foolishness. Let me share a horrifying mistake I made that could have destroyed my business. I was creating an e-book for a client. I found beautiful pictures which I designed the cover with and added throughout the book. I sent the book to her and she was delighted. The day before she was to send it to her webmaster to get it added to her site, I happened to realize that the pictures were not royalty free, which means we did not have permission to use them. I could have pretended I didn’t know and let the book go on the market and hoped that no one said anything about the pictures and my client didn’t get in trouble. I didn’t do this. I embarrassingly relayed my mistake to my client as soon as I discovered it (who is by the way, still my client). Because I was honest, she was understanding. Now, do you think I charged her to fix this mistake? See the next rule.
Rule 3- Always fix your mistakes immediately.
Do you charge for your mistakes to be fixed? Absolutely not! It is not your client/customers fault that there was a mistake! How did I fix my big mistake? I went and bought royalty free pictures (with my money). I then redid the whole book (on my own time). I stayed up late that night and got the book fixed and ready to go. My client did not have to pay out a dime for my mistake. I took full blame and then went the extra step to fix the mistake. This client has been with me for a year now, and continues to refer me to everyone she comes across. We have a wonderful relationship, that could have been ruined had I not followed Rule #2 and #3.
Now these are just 3 rules to help you along the way in your business. There are many more things we must do to build our integrity and reputation, but if you follow these 3 rules, you will not take those 20 steps backwards, but go 20 steps forward.
If you would like to see the book I did for my client, Kimberly Chastain, you may visit her at www.kimberlychastain.com and check out her newest book “Help, My Preteen/Teenager is Driving Me Nuts!” If you have preteens/teenagers or children who will eventually hit these stages, this is a fabulous book!
In the meantime, take the extra steps to grow your business by being an honest, timely, and committed business owner!
© 2005 JERPAT
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Patty Benton is the owner of JERPAT Virtual Assistants and JERPAT Web Design, http://www.moretime4u.org, which provides affordable administrative and web design support to coaches, small businesses, religious organizations, and realtors. Additionally, Patty is a coach for new entrepreneurs interested in venturing into the virtual assistance industry. She has developed a program that is affordable for all. Visit her coaching site at http://www.virtualvacoach.com for program details and great business resources. If you would like to receive Patty's articles and other tips in your mailbox every month, you can sign up at http://www.mortime4u.org/home.html.