Youíre probably thinking all this branding stuff is only for the big companies. Yeah, it works for Microsoft and Sony, but it wouldnít help out your small business.

Stop and think about this: It doesnít matter how competitive your market is Ė big or small Ė thereís one thing that sticks out like a sore thumb: youíre brand, youíre reputation. It took you years to get to this point in time.

Your reputation is a reflection of who you are as a person: the way you think, the way you run your operation, the way you pitch prospects, the blog you built, the content you wrote, the Twitter account you update, youíre assets on the line, and the even the traditional marketing materials you pass out.

It goes on and onÖ

So, it doesnít matter if you really thought about your business to that extent, your reputation is on the line, always. It grows organically and itís how the world perceives you when youíre not around. But that doesnít mean youíre totally powerless. You are if you donít do something about it.

Here are some ideas to think about when it comes to building your reputation, even if you havenít officially started a business:

It starts with a thoughtÖ

Dreaming about your business, even itís only for a little bit at a time, will reveal the hidden aspects of its intricate workings. Even if you donít have big goals planned for this year, give something for people to talk about when you tell them youíre going to start a business. Have a couple of friends spread the word for you Ė or do it all by yourself. The point is to do something. Still need help? Just pull up a Google search page and search for ďsmall business brandingĒ or just keep checking back with the blog here, thereís going to be a lot of content throughout the summer months. Learn from it and then apply the strategies as you go along.

Start networking your reputation with your employees, prospects, friends, investors, etc. Ask how they feel towards your company. Does it come close to how you see it? The only way youíre going to find out is to ask. Ask, and ye shall receive. Ye have not, because ye ask not. The subconscious is an ironic, tricky one.

The solutions to your problems might not appear just like you expect it, but theyíll shine some light on your ďhunchesĒ you never thought of trying, something that seemed totally out of this world, or something that just presses your motivational button to get you going.

And, even better, itíll use your enthusiasm to help you sell your product and/or services more abundantly.

People compare and contrast

Youíre hustling every day. You know the fight youíre fighting. Large organizations have been around the block more than once. They have the necessary funds and even the resources to boot. Uh, and, you know what? They put most of their profits back into the business. They have lawyers on retainer, their website is slick and full of highly educational content, and their audience comes back for their unique spin on things.

What if youíre competing with another startup just like yours? What if they didnít put much emphasis on their brand? Thatís your shot to get out ahead. Use your time against them.

Sure, so you donít have a lot of money to put into your business right now. You can still use whatever you have to keep a lawyer on retainer. But, on the other hand, you donít really have to. Actually, itís not that hard to keep the momentum going and reflect the purity of your soul (brand). Yeah the bigger companies can use their money to hire the best in the industry to market their brand. But you have the time to search for hidden geniuses or a couple of dedicated freelancers who will push your brand past its boundaries.

Ask your social network. See if they know a couple of friends who need to work. Browse through WholesaleForum. I bet youíll find the answers to your questions. It doesnít cost a thing, but it takes a little bit of energy to put the thoughts into words. Try it out.

If youíre just getting your business off the ground or youíre still in the preparation stage, now is the time to really think about how people will feel it.

Get cracking on it before you start mass marketing yourself, putting up collateral, and handing out promotional materials. Think some more before one of your hires uses free images from a Google Images search to get their graphical point across.

Yeah, you can put it off for a while. But itíll be worse in the future, itíll be more work to tweak your established brand, and itís going to cost you more time/money than not doing it right now.

I s there more, eh? You bet. There are millions more out there. But I only focused on the ones that would work in your favor. Just because youíre business is still young and reckless, it doesnít mean you should run it that way.