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Ethics and the Small Business

According to the media, ethics pertain to big businesses and it’s hard to open a newspaper without reading about some ethic violation. As small business owners, ethic violations may be hard to identify, especially in a very small Enterprise. Let’s start of with a definition of the word ethic according to Webster’s: the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.

There are three main areas in which ethical violations can occur.

  1. Treating people unfairly because of their gender, sexuality, skin color, religion, etc. 
  2. They can arise from conflicts of interest.
  3. Customer confidence is another area. For example, concealing the truth in advertising a product or a service. 

I believe we all know when we face an decision involving ethics; it’s called a “gut feeling”. Deep inside, we all know what is right or wrong. Perhaps money is tight and a “little white lie” may result in a sale which is desperately needed. Now, you are faced with an ethical decision; perhaps none will every find out… the truth is, you know about it, and chances are good that somewhere along the line, someone will find out.

Behaving ethically is the key to long-term sustainability of any business. Choosing to be ethical can involve a short-term disadvantage but, ln the long run, it will the part of the solid foundation upon which your business can succeed.

When your “gut” tells you that you are close to making an unethical decision, ask yourself: 

  • What will happen when the action is discovered? (all actions will eventually be discovered)
  • Is the decision really in the long-term interests of the company

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While we worry about how fast we grow, God is concerned about how strong we grow.

Have a great day!
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