If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. – Alan K. Simpson
It has been just over seven months since I officially launched Fluid Web Development. My ideal then and the only ideal I will ever work to is to provide bespoke professional websites to my customers. But most importantly the service has to be ethical. I have worked in web development for over 15 years so I have the skills, experience and tools to do the job. But up until I started my business that “job” was provided by an employer. So this is the one skill I had to master. The securing of contracts, and this is where I have seen questionable ethics.
I haven’t won every job I have chased, who does? I’ve had some customers ask me for a quote then never heard a thing. I’ve had people vigorously pursue my services then go AWOL. But in the main I’ve had the good fortune to work with customers with whom I’ve had a great relationship. It’s not just been with web designs either, social media help, setting up emails,running workshops for local business groups, etc. But the most rewarding activity has been assisting people who invested in a poorly designed website. From ill-configured add-on’s to invalid licenses I’ve sorted out all manner of bad practice. Not for the money (it’s been free in some cases) and not for the glory (other than a testimonial request or a supportive tweet), but because I don’t like to see charlatans prosper and integrity brushed aside.
One of the most important attributes for small business success, is the distinguishing quality of practicing admirable business ethics. Business ethics, practiced throughout the deepest layers of a company, become the heart and soul of the company’s culture and can mean the difference between success and failure.
Benefits of Practicing Business Ethics
In the research study, “Does Business Ethics Pay?” by The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), it was found that companies displaying a “clear commitment to ethical conduct” consistently outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct. The Director of IBE, Philippa Foster Black, stated: “Not only is ethical behaviour in business life the right thing to do in principle, we have shown that it pays off in financial returns.” These findings deserve to be considered as an important insight for companies striving for long-term success and growth.
Seven Principles of Admirable Business Ethics
1. Be Trustful: Recognize customers want to do business with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core of a company, it’s easy to recognize. Trust defined, is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, and truth of a business.
2. Keep An Open Mind: For continuous improvement of a company, the leader of an organization must be open to new ideas. Ask for opinions and feedback from both customers and team members and your company will continue to grow.
3. Meet Obligations: Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your power to gain the trust of past customer’s and clients, particularly if something has gone awry. Reclaim any lost business by honoring all commitments and obligations.
4. Have Clear Documents: Re-evaluate all print materials including small business advertising, brochures, and other business documents making sure they are clear, precise and professional. Most important, make sure they do not misrepresent or misinterpret.
5. Become Community Involved: Remain involved in community-related issues and activities, thereby demonstrating that your business is a responsible community contributor. In other words, stay involved.
6. Maintain Accounting Control: Take a hands-on approach to accounting and record keeping, not only as a means of gaining a better feel for the progress of your company, but as a resource for any “questionable ” activities. Gaining control of accounting and record keeping allows you to end any dubious activities promptly.
7. Be Respectful: Treat others with the utmost of respect. Regardless of differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of distinctions, always treat others with professional respect and courtesy.
Recognizing the significance of business ethics as a tool for achieving your desired outcome is only the beginning. A small business that instills a deep-seated theme of business ethics within its strategies and policies will be evident among customers. It’s overall influence will lead to a profitable, successful company.
So be honest with me, as I always will be with you, and please try to avoid the following:
- I don’t expect you to feel obliged to tell me you want me to develop or update your website when we meet for the first time. Perhaps you might know somebody who does and you can pass on my details. Maybe neither of us has any need for the others services, so we’ll just have a coffee and a chat. But don’t feel you have to string me along with talk of a website you don’t need or want. I have plenty of work to be getting on with so please don’t waste your or my time. I don’t tell every plumber I meet to check my pipes. So let’s respect each other.
- At Networking events don’t try to sell me something before you know my name. I once walked into an event and as the receptionist was booking me in a chap in a very shiny suit asked me where I got my LED’s from and proceeded to force his brochure, flyers and business card on me.
- Don’t invite me to networking events on the vague promise of work or a project we “just have to talk about”. I am a sole-trader, who has to make every minute count. I’ll always find time for genuine requirements, so please don’t waste my time. If you ever need to chat or want to discuss anything IT based just call me on 07742693440, or email.
- If you ask me for a proposal I’ll always provide one. If it’s not to your liking we can discuss it. Perhaps I didn’t explain something clearly enough, or I have missed a requested. Your requirements might have changed or you may have changed your mind altogether. Just let me know.
- If you genuinely need my skills then there is most likely going to be a fee. There’s no getting away from that so let’s not insult each other by trying to get freebies.
- If we can’t work together that’s fine, sometimes costs and timescales will be an issue. But please don’t start asking me “how I would have done something” because you are going to cut corners and try to do it yourself.
- If you read something I have written and you think its worth quoting then let me know and please share a link back to my website as the source. Don’t just do a cut n’ paste job and pass it off as your own work. I research the subjects of my blogs and have been working in IT for over 25 years so please respect that.
- Finally please don’t dangle a carrot in front of my nose, telling me we will do great things together then try to sell me something in the next breath. Its as false as my late mother’s teeth, and I’m too long in the tooth to fall for it.
I would really welcome your comments now you have finished reading this article. What dubious practices have gotten under your skin. Please take a moment to let me know in the comments section below: