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Business ethics is sometimes thought to be one of the top oxymoron’s out there. For anyone in business you know this isn’t the case most of the time. There are sharks and there are dolphins out in the world of business. Having an ethical standpoint as an entrepreneur not only makes you feel good but it also may help your business out exponentially. Recently the trend of social consciousnesses is everywhere you look and being both an ethical person and having ethical rules you follow in business goes perfectly with the recent changes. While business can’t always be an ethical place, there are those with some ethical rules they stick by no matter what. Below we asked several entrepreneurs what their most important ethical rules were.
Always put the clients best interests first
I am an advisor specializing in working with sponsors of retirement plans. As an acknowledged fiduciary being paid a fee for advice, I have a duty to put the client’s interests above all other interests and make recommendations accordingly. In some situations, this relationship has enabled me to separate myself from advisors who are only obligated to make “suitable” recommendations. When making a “suitable” recommendation, one does not have to disclose whether the recommendation they are making pays them more than other “suitable” recommendations they could make. In our field, many clients do not fully understand fees and expenses and can end up with inferior products and or services which can put them at risk for failing to meet their duties and responsibilities under ERISA [the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974].
Thanks to Reed Ameden, Alpha Partners
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Respect. As the country’s oldest and largest, privately held industrial labor staffing company in the United States, Labor Finders firmly believes that respect is the cornerstone of our core values (along with Appreciation and Safety), as it has been since 1975. We believe in respecting not only our clients, but our internal staff and our temporary associates deserve and command our respect daily!
Thanks to Jeffrey Burnett, Labor Finders International
Defining clearly what ethics means to me
Ethics is a very positive thing for me – it can make or break my reputation and business. It has real dollars-and-sense value. But not everyone has the same definition I do. My most important ethical rule is to define clearly what ethics means to me and what I consider to be appropriate ethical behavior. If I fail to do this, I leave the decision-making and results to everyone else but myself, and I may not like the consequences. For me, phrases like “doing the right thing” are vague and open to interpretation. Each of us decides what is “right” based on our own unique upbringing, background, experience, and culture. This means each of us will understand a situation differently and make their decisions and outcomes from these interpretations. In a crisis or real-life ethical dilemma, people will react based on their own values, not necessarily what is best for my business. Creating definitions and parameters reduces risk and provides greater satisfaction for everyone associated with my business.
Thanks to Marcy J. Maslov, e-Factor!
Trustworthy means that your employees, your customers and your board of directors/owners/investors trust what you as the business leader say to be the truth about the business and about the past, present and future path for the business. If people trust you, you can be an effective business leader even when things go wrong. If they don’t, then you and the business that you are supposed to be leading are likely to land in significant difficulty.
Thanks to Steve Wetterling, Servenger
Be transparent with your customers
Be transparent with your customers. I know that sounds really trite, but what sets a good company apart is not only listening to customers but doing something about problems when they come up. It’s very, very difficult to admit that mistakes can happen, but you have to do that. Fixing a problem can be very expensive, but worse than that, it can be incredibly embarrassing. You have to do that, though. You owe it to your customers because they’re your customers. It also teaches you a lesson that if you do it again, it’s going to cost you again. It’s like getting slapped on the nose if you’re a dog. You recognize you made a mistake, and you know you want to avoid thinking or doing anything like that ever again.
Thanks to Carey Smith, Big Ass Fans
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Keep promises and never lie
Most important ethical rule: Keep your promises and never lie (it’s two that go hand in hand) It is imperative you keep your promise to your client. If you tell them you’ll deliver a certain product or outcome, you need to keep the promise. In the unlikely event you are unable to deliver, come clean! Be upfront and honest with the client about why you can’t deliver. Apologize and rectify the situation to the clients satisfaction. Nine times out of ten the relationship will remain positive and both parties will reach an agreeable and beneficial outcome.
Thanks to Joshua Zampech, Black Ops Marketing
Do what you say you do
In business the most important ethical rule is: DO WHAT YOU SAY YOU DO. So many businesses overpromise and under deliver leaving customers feeling like they did not get what they paid for. this can apply to the actual products they purchase not doing what they are meant to, products being delivered after they were promised and services not fulfilling the clients entire needs. It also applies to something small such as a cup of coffee or a meal at a restaurant to larger purchases of products or services. Simply put, do what you say you do should be the first rule of every business and this applies to both how you treat the employees as well as the customers of the business.
Thanks to Amanda Bracks
If you would not buy it, do not sell it
If you would not buy it, do not sell it! This is relevant whether you sell widgets, advice or experiences. Believe in what you represent and make the most responsible recommendation that you would appreciate yourself if the tables were turned and you were the prospective client. This is the key to building long term relationships in that you will become a trusted advisor. Your relationships will grow, grow, grow. If you consider the life time value of building a partnership with your clients, rather than view the opportunity from a transactional perspective, you will have a much less tumultuous existence and your business will thrive on recommendations.
Thanks to Nick Simard, InspiriaMedia
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Accountability is important
Accountability. Simply. All are accountable of their own actions. If a mistake has been made, be sure to address immediately. Time only makes all worse. Be an adult. Own up. Demand others do too. And grow. No use to look back as it just wastes time. Honor your mistake. Recognize your mistake. Grow from your mistake. And, again, demand of all working with you the same respect and to do the same.
Thanks to Heidi Burkhart, Dane Professional Consulting Group
Put all your effort in to doing your best in the job you have today
Through the years I have had the pleasure of working with many true professionals that put the need of the day, what the mission really needed to be successful, ahead of what their concern for negative reaction or potential long term career impacts. In every case, those people were ultimately rewarded with job satisfaction, recognition for creativity and productivity and ultimately advancement to positions they enjoyed. I have also had the dubious distinction of working with people that were so career oriented that every decision they made was a calculated assessment of what would benefit them in their effort to be promoted. Some were so motivated by becoming “the king” that they readily ignored what they instinctively knew was the best choice for the job at hand. Fortunately, or unfortunately depending on which side of the coin you were on, in most cases these people would ultimately make a bad decision for all the wrong reasons and then wondered how their blossoming career fell on hard times.
Thanks to Brig. Gen. (Ret.) Jim Melin, AF Village West