What scares you most in running a small business?
Some small business owners will point to their financial capital, noting that they can’t afford any missteps along the way, missteps that could lead them into the red sooner rather than later.
Others, meantime, will point to tough times in the overall economy, times that can lead consumers to want to stop buying. When this happens, one’s small business can find itself in some financial peril.
That said how many small business owners do you think worry about their reputations?
If you’re a small business owner who looks to maintain a sparkling reputation, what do you think an allegation of sexual misconduct would do to that image?
As some business owners have discovered over the years, even the hint of allegations of sexual misconduct can be enough to chase away business.
So, can a sex crime allegation damage your business?
Get Legal Help Immediately
In the event you find yourself fighting off a sexual crime allegation, turning to a Greater Houston Defense team or one closer to you is a necessity, not something you can sit around thinking about for days and weeks.
Even if you know that you are 100 percent innocent of sexual crime allegations, some or much of the public (including some of your customers) do not know that to be true. As a result, they may very well shy away from doing business with you. Before long, you could see your financial bottom line take a nosedive.
So that you can put the best case forward to your customers, remember two important items:
- Your side of the story – Before any potential public reputation damage can be done to you; get out in front of the story. Even if you run a small business in a small town, word gets around faster than you may think. While you obviously can’t discuss any legal matters with customers, let them know in no uncertain terms that these allegations are simply false. The allegations could be everything from supposed illegal contact with a minor to allegations of rape to reports of soliciting sex. It could be a case of he said-she said, perhaps a matter of being initially misidentified. No matter what the allegations, nip them in the bud as soon as possible. This can be done through a press release, an interview with the local media (though your attorney will likely tell you to avoid such instances), maybe even you talking about the matter on your website or via social media. Again, always consult with your criminal defense attorney before taking any action, action that could in fact make things worse for you;
- Maintain normal business operations – Whether you take some time off to deal with the matter and turn things over to your employees (maybe even friends or family depending on the business) or you decide to keep working in order to stay busy, don’t close your business down for an extended period of time. Along with the financial fallout from such a decision, closing down for days or weeks may give off the wrong signal. When you know you’re not guilty, you need to keep projecting that image to the public. Closing up shop and hiding out at home will certainly convey a less popular image to the public. Keep business operations as professional as before, making sure your customers receive the outstanding service they have gotten up to this point.
You have likely worked a number of years to build up your small business, so don’t let unfounded allegations of a sexual crime tear it down overnight.
Be sure you work with your criminal defense attorney to prove your innocence when all is said and done.
Remember, your public image can take a hit even if you are found innocent of any charges, so it may take you a while to build your business clientele back up.
With the popularity of social media, word (true and false) spreads like wildfire these days.
Make sure you put out any fires before they have the ability to burn your image and that of your brand.
About the Author: Dave Thomas covers small business topics on the web.