As a business owner, you know how hard it is to build a successful reputation. You likely spent a great deal of time making it happen within your local environment. You talk to your customers. You shake hands. You participate in various community events. There is a lot to do to build that reputation. Yet, when it comes to your online reputation, you may also know how quickly things can go wrong, especially if a simply poor message is spread from one site to the next. If you are like many small business owners, your goal is to get this under control. To do that, though, you need to avoid some of the most common myths about the process.

#1: It takes a great deal of time to manage your online reputation.

The fact is, it does not have to. There are plenty of opportunities available to have professionals manage the work for you. You can use some online tools to help you to do this, too. Aside from all of this, even if you decided to manage the process yourself, you would only need to use a handful of minutes each day to do so.

#2: Your local customers aren’t affected by your online reputation.

Even if you’ve worked for a client before, it is likely he or she will go online later and check your profile or make a statement about your company. Even your best clients will check in from time to time. The bottom line is that everyone should consider the importance of their online reputation.

#3: You are safe because nothing comes up when you Google your company’s name.

That’s not always the case. In fact, many businesses find that there are countless “hidden” things said about their business online. Unless you take the time to learn about reputation management, and how to actually manage it, it is likely you are not seeing even half of what people, both customers and potential customers, have to say about your business, you, as the owner, and the industry as a whole. That’s why it is so important for you to make time for the process

You don’t have to invest a lot of time or money into the process. You can let the professionals do the work for you to minimize the sting of a bad review or to improve the overall presence of your company online. The worst thing you can do is to do nothing.

Mark van Berkel is Founder and President of Hunch Manifest Inc. While managing business operations he also leads the team in designing semantic technology to provide personalized online presence and reputation management services. Prior to forming the company, he was consultant in enterprise software projects to companies including Panasonic, Shell, and General Electric and was an Architect for a world leading human capital management software-as-a-service. Mark holds a Bachelor of Information Systems from StFX University and did his graduate studies at University of Toronto, getting a MEng Industrial Information Engineering and an MBA, Strategy and Innovation from the Rotman School of Management. In 2006 he published a 170 page report as a researcher at the Semantic Technologies Lab at the University of Toronto and built a semantic technology prototype for SAP Research Labs. Connect with Mark on LinkedIn or Twitter. Mark is also certified in Google Analytics.