Search engines are omnipresent, and more people are using them to do a quick check on everything from reviews on their new dentist to information on a prospective first date. The importance of reputation management is not to be underestimated, especially if you are starting a business.
There are numerous parties who will be extremely interested in running a quick search engine check of your name to learn more about you—here’s the who and the why:
Prospective employees. You are a new company with little reputation so far. The only information a prospective employee has to go when considering whether he/she will work for you is what they learn in the interview, but also what they learn online. The more credible and “clean” you look, the more inclined that employee is going to be to jump on board with you on your new adventure.
Prospective customers. Again, it’s all about credibility. Have previous customers from other businesses you’ve worked for written bad reviews about you? Have you ever been sued? Have jilted friends posted unfavorable photos or messages about you?
Well listen—no one is perfect! But new customers do want to be sure they are giving business to someone is who is legitimate, credible, and someone whom they know they can trust with their time and their money.
Prospective investors. Every business needs investors, whether they are friends, family, venture capitalists, or angels, they are guaranteed to do a background check on you and your partners. This will inevitably include scouring the internet for information about you, both positive and negative, so be sure to mitigate the risks by managing your online reputation.
Potential press opportunities. If your business starts to do well, you may earn some great attention from the press. Any good reporter is going to do a background check online about you, and could perpetuate whatever is already online about you in the new article. So try to be sure whatever is online about you is both true and positive.
Future employers.Say your company doesn’t work out (50% of small businesses fail, according to the Small Business Association). You want to make sure you have a crispy clean reputation online when you go to apply for that next job, or try to
start that next company. So again, be sure to constantly monitor your online reputation just as you would your credit score. You never know when you might need it to be favorable.
The reality is that many people have had the misfortune of being associated with some potentially damaging information about themselves that search engines can easily pull up. If you are about to start a business, it’s very important to get ahead of the ball and make sure that online reputation of yours is as clean as can be. Everyone and anyone can look for information about you, and many inevitably will throughout the course of your business.
Cara Aley is a freelance writer who covers a wide variety of topics from digital marketing strategy to health and wellness.