There are very few things that can give you sustainable competitive advantage. Not price, not location, not expertise, and certainly not legislation. But reputation is one.

When all else is lost, reputation stays. A business needs to care about its reputation. Actually, all of us, whether employer or employed should also care about our reputation too.

I read about this story over 20 years ago, and I’d like to retell this. This old chinese story happened over a thousand years ago, but its lessons are as relevant today.

‘There was this old rich official who owned hugh tracts of land. He asked his assistant to go collect the rent, and then buy him something that he still did not have. What do you give a person who has everything?

The assistant went to visit the farmers, and then proceeded to burn the collection receipts. The old official was flabbergasted, and told the assistant that he absolutely was reckless.

A month after the official went to visit his land. He was greeted by huge cheers of the farmers in gratitude for his kind consideration to waive that years rent.

He then understood what the assistant meant. He had everything but the reputation and goodwill of his tenants. For him who had everything, he lacked ‘a good name. ‘

It would have been great if reputation can simply be bought. Sometimes, it can. But the reason it is so valuable because it requires time, dedication and sacrifice to develop a reputation for trust and reliability. However, once developed, it can give back many times over. The Chinese have a saying, “The tiger will leave its skin, but for people, the only thing you will leave when you are dead is your good name.”

What have you done to enhance your reputation lately?

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