Ever been blindsided by a Yelp “review?”

Here’s something buyers, sellers, and brokers should be considering. In addition to the flow of all the financial statements and all the necessary due diligence that takes place in business sales, something else is happening. While grizzled old timers (many of whom are younger than me) may pound on the table and claim “facts are facts,” increasingly, one’s reputation is a factor in selling and buying.

If you’re a seller, are there Yelp comments on what you offer as a service or a product? Are there angry blog entries by people who’ve had an unfortunate experience with your company? And- what are the online bread-crumbs your senior management are leaving behind? What are *their* skeletons? While you may not be able to scour the web and eliminate all the goop, you can, and should, be aware of what’s out there. If for no other reason than to prepare for the inevitable question of why you’re a regular attendee at a boondoggle conference every year, in Hawai’i, in February, or why your spouse belongs to a country club that’s repeatedly faced charges of discrimination … All this information is out there.

And there’s more. As a potential seller, what odd things will a Google search find about the person who’s possibly going to make an offer to buy your company?

The point is, what was due diligence 10 years ago isn’t the best you can – or should – get nowadays.

In a recent SmallBizTrends.com article, “Avoid that online reputation management nightmare” (by Lisa Barone) -there’s more meat to this idea:

http://smallbiztrends.com/2009/07/reputation-nightmare.html

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  1. “Facts” aren’t always what they seem. A story:

    Ship sails into its home port and when its secured and the re-provisioning is under way, all but a few of the crew run off for shore time. Including the First Mate.

    It’s home port so the First Mate has himself more than a few pints of grog and returns back to his ship in the early hours of the next morning.

    Later that day, when on shore watch, the Mate sees the entry made by the Captain in the previous nights ship log “First Mate – drunk tonight.” He speaks with the captain – asking him to reconsider the entry because logs are kept forever and are often used in Promotional Review.

    Captain says “facts is facts. I saw what I saw, I wrote what I wrote and people will know it’s a fact. That simple!”

    Next morning that Captain was reviewing the shore watch log from the night before. There, in the neat handwriting of the First Mate was the entry:

    “Captain was sober tonight.”

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