By Bryan Orr
Yes. No matter if it’s the stone age or the digital and technology age, ethics matter. It isn’t free, and it isn’t always easy, but trust will always be an advantage to business.
Every transaction you have ever made comes down to trust at some level. This doesn’t always mean that you trust the other person personally, but it does mean that you at minimum trust their process. You trust that the currency is real, you trust that you won’t be held liable for something that you weren’t responsible for, and you trust that the transactions you make will result in a benefit to you. If you didn’t trust them at some level, then why would you work with them?
In an age when moral failings and shady deals are as ubiquitous as blue jeans, it can be easy to think that you can’t compete without compromise. The exact opposite is true: If you stand out as a business that does the right thing and keeps its promises in a sea of untrustworthy businesses, you will clearly come out on top in the eyes of those you do business with.
An honest cost-benefit analysis will show that doing business with someone who keeps their word consistently represents a much lower risk, resulting in a higher fair market price. This is easier said than done for two reasons.
The first reason it’s difficult is because being honest will cost you at times. I can think of two cases in which we lost over $1,000 by taking responsibility for mistakes that we could have easily hidden. Doing the right thing will cost money sometimes, but honesty is a short-term investment that usually pays long-term dividends in customer trust (and you being able to sleep at night).
The second reason being ethical can be difficult is that it takes confidence. You must self identify as being a highly ethical business person. If you don’t, then you will never value your own work for what it is, and you will likely go out of business because of it. If you are painfully ethical and you are trying to compete on price with businesses that aren’t, then you are just going to frustrate yourself.
Stand out and don’t be afraid to price accordingly. This does not mean that you always have to verbalize with people that you are honest and ethical, it simply means that you act out your honesty in the marketplace. Nothing puts up a red flag for me like someone that is always harping on how honest they are. This is something that you show the customer over the course of the relationship.
Remember that being ethical does not equal perfection. It means that you’re committed to putting forth your best efforts. When things aren’t perfect and you make mistakes (or those who work for you make mistakes), it means that you take responsibility and always strive for clarity and authenticity.
What ethical practices do you embrace that help you stand out?