This is a guest blog post from George Bresler, President of GB Collects, an accounts receivables management business and a member of Inc. Business Owners Council

'It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you'll do things differently'. –Warren Buffett

I believe Warren Buffett overestimated the time it takes to ruin a reputation by about 4 and a half minutes. In our new Tweeting, blogging, You-Tubing world, reputations are as fragile as the egos of the global CEOs Buffett's company, Berkshire Hathaway, invests in.  Throughout history, reputation has been a bankable asset in which someone's word had measurable value. But in a world where praise, rejection or skeletons in the closet can be found and served up instantly, a timeless truth becomes more urgent: everyone has an agenda—many of them hidden-- and now the tools to further those agendas are accessible 24-7-365. In this environment, it becomes necessary not only to foster a good reputation but also to protect it.

In my work as the owner of a collection agency, I've discovered a new business segment: one that's becoming increasingly important and that I thought was worth sharing with you. It's called 'reputation management,' or more precisely 'search engine reputation management'. A search engine reputation management company has a team of experienced professionals that trace negative content and strategize on how to counter the less than favorable information. The strategy will result in a plan of attack, writing positive content and blanketing the search engines to provide viewers trustworthy and reliable information. 

At GB Collects, we make business decisions based on our judgments of the trustworthiness of the people we contact. It's taught me to be very concerned about these same matters as far as my reputation is concerned. I Google myself at least twice a week, looking for that jilted employee or reporter-blogger whose decided that my reputation can be road kill on his or her path to making a pithy point. 

Note from Lewis Schiff: How easy is it to gather information about the people we work with? Check out which assembles profiles of the people who email you based on publicly available information.  Take heed of George Bresler's words. As George told me, 'I can do good deeds day after day but I'm always one keystroke away from being a bum.'

Agree with George? Disagree? Let him know at