What do business ethics look like in 2021?
Remember when 2021 had a really calm and serene start…. then your alarm went off and you had to get ready for yet another day of working from home? 2021 didn’t start how anyone expected, did it?
You were hoping for a moderately normal January and then it happened again. Before you could decide on your New Year’s resolutions we were back in lockdown. With so many companies doing whatever they can to survive this pandemic, one question is consistently left out of sales calls. What does your business stand for?
Yes, everyone needs to get through this, but should making a profit come at a cost of your reputation as a force for good in your community?
Here are some tips to make sure that while you’re growing your business, you’re also growing your reputation.
Focus on your clients – not the invoices you just sent them
Imagine if everyone turned into a bill. You would just wake up pay for something, and then sit around bored all day, waiting for someone to give you a purpose – not a very fun life is it?
Life is better with friends, which is why commercial success is based on relationships. If people feel that you don’t care about them, they’ll give their money to someone who does. They’ll also tell all their friends that you were a nightmare to deal with. That one invoice might end up costing you 50 sales. There’s ‘not ideal’ and then there’s whatever that is.
Treat your staff as you’d like to be treated
Your teamwork hard every day. When they’re having to find new and interesting parts of their coffee table to stare into, after almost a year of home working, everything can seem stressful. Kindness goes a long way, especially during a pandemic. Looking after your team’s mental health is key to their happiness, your happiness, and ultimately, your company’s productivity.
Adjust your schedule to allow for homeschooling. Don’t mind the odd, unexpected guest attending a Zoom meeting. You’ll do everyone’s morale the world of good. You will also make your team remember you as someone who encouraged them and gave them opportunities, rather than someone who slammed doors when things got tough. That kind of positive reputation transforms your company from a local business to a local inspiration.
Keep your promises
Reliability matters. Keeping your word matters. Most importantly, building trusted relationships with your customers and your network matters. If you promise to do something, you should do it because it’s the right thing to do. The amount of money involved doesn’t matter. You should complete whatever work you’ve promised on time, and to the highest possible standard.
How can people confidently recommend you for delivering quality goods and services, if they can’t rely on you to do something as basic as keeping your word?
Give back to your community
All business owners want to make money and enjoy a comfortable life. What happens next though? What legacy will you leave? Supporting good causes isn’t just about good PR. Giving future generations opportunities to enjoy the same success that you are, is key to building a stronger society.
Everyone remembers the Cadbury family for creating Bournville and ensuring that their everyone who lived near to their factory could enjoy a great quality of life. Instead of hoarding the profits from their chocolate and leaving their community to live in poverty (like many other manufacturers at the time), the Cadbury family believed in better. Unsurprisingly, people still love Cadbury’s chocolate.
Every business can support their local communities (building whole villages isn’t required). You could support a local charity, offer work experience opportunities in local schools and colleges, support causes that matter in your area, give careers talks and so much more. The idea of givers gaining is true in life, not just in business networking.
Don’t bend the rules
One of the many things that businesses dislike is red tape. Unfortunately, whatever we think about rules and regulations, we all have to follow them. This is particularly important during the pandemic when promoting mask-wearing and social distancing will save lives. People look up to your business, so don’t let them down by doing something you shouldn’t.
We’re living through extraordinary times, but business ethics rules from years ago still apply. What do you think good business ethics look like in 2021? How important do you think it is for entrepreneurs to play active roles in their communities?
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