A great reputation is essential to your small and medium-sized business. Firms with strong reputations attract more clients because they are perceived as providing more value.
Their clients are loyal and buy their products and services no matter what. You started out with a great idea. Now, you have to do your best to maintain a positive social image. When the economy is low, reputation helps the company expand and grow, which is able to retain its market share and even open up new markets. A suspicion of a criminal offence can have drastic implications for your business.
If you’re suspected of a criminal offence, this can have drastic, long-lasting consequences on your professional life. Entrepreneurs who find themselves in this situation must be aware of the fact that it’s not easy to fix a broken and damaged reputation.
Being arrested for a criminal offence affects your corporate reputation
Imagine the following situation: You’ve been arrested for an alleged criminal offence. The crime has yet to be proven, but you were arrested anyway. The term alleged is used due to the fact that you were falsely accused of the crime, although you have the right to be presumed innocent. What happened is now in the past. It’s important to think about the present and the future. Something like this can negatively affect the reputation of your SME.
Being arrested for a criminal offence can have some of the following ramifications:
- Clients lose trust in you – An SME’s survival depends on the trust of its clients. Shortly after you’re arrested, the word gets out. Clients will lose trust in your business. Once trust is lost, it’s hard to rebuild. Not only will people question your reputation, but also your credibility.
- Limited ability to acquire business licenses and permits – Even if the arrest doesn’t result in a conviction, this may not be sufficient to prevent professional problems down the line. If you try to obtain business licenses and permits, you may come across obstacles.
Given that your reputation and community standing are of the essence, it’s recommended to take action right away.
Steps to effective SME business reputation management
You must improve the image of your brand and lessens the impact of negative opinions. This is easier said than done. Protecting your reputation as an entrepreneur is hard enough. With the involvement of a criminal lawsuit, things become even more complicated. But not impossible.
1. Hire a criminal defence solicitor
You have the right to representation by counsel that will enable you to prove your innocence. Obviously, the first step you need to make is to find legal representation. To be more precise, find a criminal defence solicitor. It’s the job of the legal professional to analyse the evidence against you and advise on a suitable plea.
Attention needs to be paid to the fact that criminal laws change all the time. In the United Kingdom, in particular, the law has seen numerous changes in terms of procedure and legislation. Moreover, criminal law differs from state to state. Why? Well, nations have the freedom to create, implement, and, last but not least, enforce their own laws.
If you were to compare the UK and US legal systems, you would see that there are major differences. In spite of the fact that the legal institutions of Great Britain have served as the well-spring of American law, it has fostered changes. A Utah criminal lawyer, for instance, isn’t required to pursue other courses or apprenticeship after having completed graduation. That doesn’t mean that they aren’t capable of representing their clients, though. Needless to say, the differences don’t end here.
Getting back on topic, a criminal defence solicitor can help you clear your name. If issues with the prosecution are discovered ahead of time, it’s possible to get the case dismissed. Having a legal professional by your side helps you prove your innocence and regain your lost freedom.
2. Own our mistake. It’ll make you more powerful
Maybe you don’t deserve the blame, but you must accept it. Owning your mistake will make you and your firm more powerful. You demonstrate to the public that you’re accountable. People will understand that you’ve simply made a mistake. Accepting fault isn’t going to solve the problem, but it’s a good start. Regardless of how much you want to put an end to finger-pointing, try to resist the temptation.
Explain what happened to whomever is interested and insist on the fact that it wasn’t actually a mistake. There is logical justification behind what you did. Being accused of something you didn’t do is frustrating to say the least. Nevertheless, your guilt or innocence hasn’t been determined, so it’s best to make an effort. Offer as much information as possible and don’t hide what has happened or what’s about to happen next. Keep in mind that you’re a human before an entrepreneur and you have to appeal to people’s better nature.
3. Continue to be a successful entrepreneur
It goes without saying that not everyone has what it takes to become an entrepreneur. You have succeeded in starting your own company, which is no little thing. Being charged with a criminal offence hasn’t helped your situation. What you can do about it? Well, although it sounds counter-intuitive, you should continue as if nothing has ever happened. More specifically, continue to be a successful entrepreneur.
See to your responsibilities and try to minimise the psychological stress. You can’t be distracted; at least, not at a time like this. You’ve done nothing wrong and, if you have good legal representation, there’s nothing to worry about. Your solicitor knows what they are doing and they will get the criminal charges dismissed. Your SME might experience some difficulties, but it’s nothing that you cannot handle.
The bottom line is that you need to continue as if nothing has ever happened. Forget about the stress and the haziness of the day. Your competitors shouldn’t see you at your weakest. Be professional, even though you’re going through difficult times and it’s hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Your criminal defence solicitor will protect you from heavy penalties and they will certainly speed up the process. Everything will be okay.