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Google took a hit to its reputation this week when it rolled out Google Buzz with some privacy flaws. This could have been fixed really easily very early on. All Google had to do was make its public profile of Google Buzz users an opt-in feature instead of an opt-out feature. Now they have reputation issues and for a company like Google, this is a big issue.

It’s also a learning point for the rest of us. Your reputation management begins the moment you start planning. It doesn’t begin when you start marketing or when your product hits the market. You’ve got to plan your reputation management right from the beginning.

If you can’t anticipate correctly what the market wants, take a poll. Conduct a survey or find out in some other way. But you can ask your users what they want before you ever do it. That will save you head aches later, believe me.

Just remember, your reputation is at stake the moment you consider an idea. Protect it with everything you have.

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