When Do You Stand and Fight in Times of Small Business Accusations?
When should a small business owner stand up and fight when there are small business accusations?
For many years I have avoided conflict.
I take the morally superior position; I ignore the accusations. I assume that “they will get theirs!” and move on with my business as usual.
But is there a time one should definitely stand up for themself?
Is there a moment that the correct “on-brand” thing to do is respond?
I believe that the answer is that there are definitely times to respond!
Local Small Business Networks Have Positivity and Negativity
We began our Lakeland website design company, Spark Sites, in a local small business network. It was called Lakeland Business Leaders at the time (and has now evolved to be Bridge Local).
The community was welcoming! We launched our business and found many clients from that group. And I would venture a guess that nearly 95% of all of them are very positive people.
But negativity among small business owners is insidious.
You see, bad people, I mean downright bad apples, don’t hang around these groups for long. Their businesses falter. Their small business connections dry up. Entrepreneur Coaches and trainers veer away from them. In short, bad small business owners are weeded out quickly.
It is those who are NICE BUT NEGATIVE who are sincerely bad apples.
That is because they stick around. They are allowed in the circle. And though their businesses rarely thrive, they are not openly mean enough to remove the small business networking group at large.
These are the folks who cast small business accusations that can harm others’ reputations.
I Usually Ignore These Accusations
Even if people like this hang around the business networking groups, they are typically known for their negativity and overlooked. So, I rarely stick around and fight. However, sometimes the core values of your company are challenged directly. And sometimes these small accusations, left unanswered could mar your repuation.
Here is how I respond.
How to Respond to Small Business Accusations
- Confront the Person Directly: Though it can be uncomfortable, going directly to them and, in the tone of the victim, ask them what caused them to accuse you of things. This will rarely actually resolve the issue! This move is to say with integrity that you’ve taken the steps to confront the person and put them on notice that you are listening and will speak up.
- Connect with The People Who Relayed the Accusation: They may not be party to the accusation, but may have relayed it. They could have passed it on to just you, but in all likelihood they have passed it along to others. Discussing what they heard, again from the posture of the person victimized in the communication, can reveal more detail that may be helpful to you managing your reputation. Let them know that you spoke with the accuser and how it went.
- AVOID Being Guilty of the Same Thing! In all of your communications, do not speak ill of the accuser. You can definitely refute their words, but do not stoop to personal attacks.
- Post a Generalized Response: In the same platform that you were accused in, and others if possible, publish a general response. No need to name people or even refer to the specific accusation. However, a series of posts that point to the facts about your business which refute the accusation is all that is needed. If you were accused of poor customer service roll out a post series in multiple channels that features reviews from happy customers. If you were accused of not doing business locally, roll out a post serious feature your local contributions.
This is what I believe it means to stand and fight small business accusations.
Take the higher ground. But don’t always take it on the cheek.