This paper examines the discursively constructed meanings for reputation in the small business context – an area of reputation research that has so far attracted little attention. We argue that viewing reputation as a social construction makes it possible to uncover and understand the variety of meanings attached to the concept in small businesses. On the basis of 25 thematic interviews with owner-managers we (re)constructed four meanings for reputation: reputation as an economic resource, as social recognition, as a restrictive control mechanism and as a risk for personal status. We also investigate the variety of discursive events in which these meanings are created. The study further emphasizes reputation as a phenomenon in which a small business becomes identified with its owner-manager, adding to the complex and conflicting nature of reputation, including both positive and negative aspects.