One of the lawyers in our city once said "It takes a lifetime to build a reputation and a second to lose it". People are attracted to businesses and professionals who have good reputations and it is therefore important that you focus on building and maintaining one that is admirable.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to separate the values, practices and integrity of the business from those of the individuals who operate the business - especially in the case of sole professionals. You are the business and your actions, whether they are in your personal or professional practice, are being observed and judged by your peers and clients.
It never ceases to amaze me when people say one thing and do another thinking that the discrepancy will not catch up to them. Inevitably, the preacher who delivers sermons on "sins of the flesh" will be found out for sexual improprieties. Those who at first appear to be successful in advising others regarding their financial portfolios, often end up in jail for embezzlement. Even sports and film role-models can lose the respect of fans when they are caught with illegal drug use or criminal behaviours.
Aren't you disappointed when you find out that one of the individuals who you respected, has not measured up to your expectations?
It is not enough to carry on with inappropriate choices and then think you can merely ask forgiveness and carry on without consequences.
Building and maintaining a good reputation involves adopting good values and practices in both personal and professional arenas. Offering good services, resolving problems in a healthy and fair manner while role-modelling compassion and good skills will help you to build a good reputation that will extend well beyond your community.
Think for a moment of the people in your life who you would name as having your respect and trust. Is your name on that list? Would you describe yourself as having a good reputation?
Remember, even if you do have a good reputation now, it can be lost in a second. Protect it by continuing to make good choices because, as a sole professional your reputation is one of your very best assets.