Picking the wrong business partner can turn into a nightmare that could destroy your finances, your business, and your reputation. It may damage your image so badly that you may never open another business again.
Many factors can damage a person’s online reputation. Perhaps your future business partner doesn’t pay his bills. Maybe he does poor work or he treats his customers badly. It could be that his personal image is a disaster as a result of criminal behavior and people don’t want to do business with him.
Whatever the reason, people probably talk about him online and warn others not to do business with him. His name may also show up in news articles written about his poor business practices. Avoid going into business with someone like this, and check the person’s online reputation before you make a mistake.
Perform a Google Search
A simple Google search can sometimes provide all the information you need to investigate a person’s online reputation. Simply type the person’s name or the name of the business and see what pops up.
Bad reviews will stick out like a sore thumb, and you can spot them quickly. Make sure you scroll through several pages before you call it quits. If the person is computer-savvy, he may have figured out a way to hide his bad news.
Investigate Online Reviews
Sites like Reputation.com give advice about checking a person’s online reputation. They recommend looking at sites like Yelp, Yahoo! Local, Google Places, TripAdvisor, Angie’s List, and CitySearch. These sites compile online reviews of people and businesses with easy search tools. Also, bad reviews cannot be removed or hidden.
Check Social Media Sites
Social media sites like Facebook and Twitter make great search tools, too. Most businesses have a Facebook page. Sometimes these businesses allow consumers to leave comments about their business. But be careful, these businesses also have the power to remove bad comments. Just because someone’s Facebook page has glowing reviews doesn’t mean all clients were satisfied customers.
Twitter is also a helpful tool. Send out a Tweet asking for feedback about a business. It won’t take long to hear back from folks who are either very satisfied or very displeased with that business.
Take a Peek at BBB
We have all come to trust the Better Business Bureau over the years to let us know what businesses we can trust. Their website provides a great resource to research businesses and look for complaints. Many times these complaints do not show up in a Google search, so it’s best to go straight to the source.
Most businesses have online forums to discuss current business practices and employment opportunities. These sites, like LinkedIn, also link together professionals who have been in the industry for several years and know a lot of people in the business.
Join one of these sites and start a conversation about your newest venture and ask for recommendations. Your peers will most likely help you avoid a possible business catastrophe.
Kim Wade is a freelance writer who writes about motherhood, blogging,asy and business.