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Slow climb to building a solid reputation

I have a great business as a tattoo artist. I have loyal customers, a stellar reputation and solid street cred amongst many of my peers. Thinking back on how I have achieved this I realize it was a slow climb to my success. It did not just happen overnight.

The same is true in the photography business. It's not like one day you hang a sign outside your door and, presto, you have a thriving business. It requires a lot of work, a lot of patience and a lot of time. The key to building a business, however, can be narrowed down to a single word; reputation. No other aspect holds as much value in business as that one word.

Face it, if you have a bad reputation you will not be in business for very long. Without business you won't have an income coming in. However, if you have a good reputation it is an indicator that you are doing something right and your business will thrive. How can you have a good reputation if you have lousy business skills? How about a lousy personality? Bad record keeping? Unable to deliver a product? It just doesn't work that way. You fail in one aspect you ruin your reputation. Ruin your reputation and you ruin your business.

If a photographic business is your goal you need to establish a foundation of quality and truthfulness. Don't cheat your customers to make a few extra bucks. Don't sacrifice quality because you're tired. Don't lie to cover your ass. Customers are not stupid. They can spot bad business a mile away. You may fool one or two but that will only get the ball rolling against you. Word of mouth spreads like wildfire.

What I have learned is that good news tends to travel slow. Bad news spreads like poison ivy on sensitive skin. I also learned that satisfied customers are your best form of advertising. Do right by them and they will drive business to you. Guaranteed. So remember, your reputation is your key to success.


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A very large oak was uprooted by the wind and thrown across a stream. It fell among some Reeds, which it thus addressed: “I wonder how you, who are so light and weak, are not entirely crushed by these strong winds.” They replied, “You fight and contend with the wind, and consequently you are destroyed; while we on the contrary bend before the least breath of air, and therefore remain unbroken, and escape.” - Aesop's Fable