The significance of the internet in the modern world can never be overstated. This incredibly vast network connects people from all over the world, and has important implications for business. Small business owners have long thrived on the loyalty of local customers, and reputation has always been important. In the past, reviews in magazines and newspapers often predicted the success or failure of businesses, but that dynamic is shifting in the face of online reviews. Now, business owners have not only big name reviewers giving write-ups. Online review sites allow every customer the chance to be a critic, and this has important implications for local small businesses.

Some small business owners make the mistake of believing that no one reads online reviews, and that those who do read them don’t take them seriously. This is a dangerous fallacy. While a customer review may not always carry the same weight as a publication from a popular name, every review matters. Your customers are, after all, the life blood of your business. When the customers are not satisfied, they can easily take their business elsewhere. Treat your online reviews like valuable feedback. Some business owners pay good money for the kind of market research that you get from your customers for free.

Never assume that people aren’t reading your online reviews. The internet is the most widely used information network in the world, and customers everywhere are taking to the net when choosing where to spend their dollars. When someone is thinking of trying a new restaurant or any other kind of business, they’ll often make their decision based on online reviews. A slew of negative reviews on a popular network like Yelp has the power to turn away huge amounts of potential business. A positive rating, on the other hand, will entice potential customers to give you a try.

You will never know how much business you’re losing due to negative reviews, because no one is going to tell you when they decide not to patronize your business. They simply won’t come through the door. This can be the kiss of death for small businesses, because what you don’t know really can hurt you. Your business may never reach its full potential if you’re being weighed down by negative online reviews. It is extremely important to maintain a good reputation for business to flourish. The words of the people are powerful, and online reviews can lead to success or failure depending on how they shape your reputation.

Tune in to what your customers are saying about you. This will help to realize where your business is succeeding, as well as where it may be falling short. Every small business owner’s goal should be customer satisfaction, and an open ear to your customers’ opinions will become its own reward. Take the time to read your reviews, and consider contacting dissatisfied customers to see if you can change their feelings. Online reviews can take your business to great heights, or slow you down to a crawl.

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