I’ve come to realise one very important difference between businesses that value their reputation and those that don’t. In essence it boils down to one very critical factor, that if managed correctly, garners significant returns, while if done incorrectly can be damaging. It’s not even a difficult thing to do, it just requires one occasionally challenging human virtue – patience.

Yes, patience is a virtue and waiting can be really difficult but the cliche that good things take time is, as almost all cliches are, absolutely true.

The thing is, reputations are made, forged over periods of time, asserting consistencies that are obvious to those whose opinions build and enhance them. A reputation is thus a reflection of someone or a businesses. People can live lives in particular ways, good, or bad. They can create and develop businesses that do marvellous, average, or under par things but their reputations will be built by those who bear witness to those events and behaviours. That takes time. Time for trends to be seen – for similarities establish, to create consistent stories.

So – for business owners that understand that their reputations are evolving and have taken time to develop, their is an acceptance and an understanding that the fruits of those reputations do not come all at once or right away.

An online reputation will always have a beginning. The time where a business owner actively commits to the level of honesty and transparency that comes with initiating and actively encouraging online reviews. It takes some months, and then years for that foundation to support a solid, active, and dynamic reputation.

But the fruits of that foundational commitment will always result in substantial returns – engaged returning customers, new customers and a much healthier business overall.

For some business owners, the beginning bit is too hard because they want the returns right away, without doing any of the work or being patient at all. I am occasionally flummoxed by some of the excuses I hear from those who seemingly do not have even the minimum amount of forbearance to grasp that returns are never instantaneous and that they absolutely never can be when it comes to an online reputation. This is purely because the nature of an online reputation is that it takes time to grow, nurtured by the consistent reviews of customers.

A significant and lasting online reputation then only requires the patience to let it prosper, rather than to rush it and see it flounder.

I used another analogy recently with a business owner who wanted to me to quantify absolutely what he could expect, even just by signing up and committing his business to feedback from his customers. This is an impossible question to answer – if only for the variables at play. Would he, for instance, encourage customers to review, would he do that with patience and with the knowledge that it takes time? How much time? he asked me.

I responded with the first thing that came to mind and was relieved that it made the sense that I wanted to convey.

“Think of it like this. You’ve decided to go the gym, you want to take care of yourself, exercise, improve your fitness and muscle tone. How long do you think it will be before your biceps are larger? That you develop a six pack? It’s not going to happen on that first visit is it? It won’t be on the second. In fact, it will take months and even then it will be dependant on other factors – diet, for example.”

He understood then that his online reputation would take a while to develop and that it would then create the returns that he would like but that it would take his guidance and his control, but overall, his patience to allow that occur.