11 Jun 10 Do’s & Don’ts of Building an Ethical Business
Setting up your business can take a lot of energy and it’s easy to get lost in the fray. Keep your business on the ethical road by following these key pointers.
1. Don’t Gossip
Keep the drama out of your business. Be forthcoming with feedback, generous with well-deserved references, and caring towards your fellow business owners and their employees. Gossip creates toxic environments – be the leader and don’t partake in the drama.
2. Don’t Copy
You worked hard to develop your business – and so did someone else. While you can be inspired and offer similar services to meet market trends and demands, lifting copy, images or graphics that are not yours is a big no. Also, remember that just because something is working for someone else does not mean it will work for you. You’re one of a kind and the world needs your special gifts. Not a knock off of someone else.
3. Don’t Assume
Everyone’s path is different when it comes to goals and even setbacks. Everyone understands and responds to things differently. Communication is the antidote to misunderstandings that lead to assumptions that lead to frustrations that lead to waste and lost revenue. Have the conversations with people and ask your questions rather than jumping to conclusions.
4. Don’t Undercut Competitors
Offering identical goods or services at a lower price-point just to win the sale hurts your industry by turning your service into a commodity. Lots of other industries have done this (cell phone providers, for example). When people are basing their purchases entirely on prices, everyone suffers in this race to the bottom. It won’t help you create an ethical business in the long run.
5. Do Be Fully Licensed & Insured
It’s important to make sure you’re protected and properly licensed as required by your state. Better businesses do this because they understand their part of leaving things better for future generations. Taking these steps protects your industry, your clients and your own peace of mind. It also protects those who work for you, which brings us to…
6. Do Pay a Living Wage (Subcontractors too)
A living wage shows your team that you value their time and presence. Also, a living wage eases the pressure and stress people under financial strain feel, meaning your team can invest more time and energy into your business.
7. Do Stand up for Equality & Racial Justice
With power comes responsibility and businesses play an important role in supporting marginalized communities. This means having awareness of your own privilege & biases, creating equitable workplaces and hiring practices and being mindful of the messaging and marketing images you are using to promote your company.
8. Don’t Try to Game or take Advantage of the System
Taking shortcuts or cutting corners to give yourself an unfair advantage ultimately is done at the expense of someone else. Similarly, benefiting from an unjust or inequality system without pause or calls for change needs to understand this hurts people in other ways. Businesses that turn a blind eye, or act opportunistically may be successful in the short term. But at what cost?
9. Do Have Uncomfortable Conversations
The most successful people in work and life are the ones willing to have the most uncomfortable conversations. These conversations are important to break the cycle of assumption, build trust and stay true to the life you want to build. With practice, you will be able to better manage your response to these sticky situations and lean in when you need to.
10. Do Stop Serving Your Ego
Set aside your need to preserve specific paths to success. This is your ego at work and will get in the way of your greater purpose & work. Often we are called upon to be creative and let go of your sense of entitlement to carve a path that works.
Choosing to be an ethical business is selfless, hard work. But this is what makes your business better and serves the greater good. Why settle for anything less?
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