Every small business owner should include a section on business ethics in their business plan. I know there’s at least one book that says there’s no such thing as small business ethics, but that’s because it condenses all ethics into one important philosophy, the Golden Rule. “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” That’s definitely the basis for ethics, and something almost every religion has included in their scriptures.
Ethical behavior in business transactions is vitally important because once you’ve lost your reputation it is very hard to get it back. Rumors and complaints from dissatisfied customers spread more easily than the much-craved word-of-mouth advertising everyone talks about. Treating people fairly, compassionately, with kindness is the best way to show that your business is people-oriented, approachable, and trustworthy.
You might not think that small business ethics deserve a place on this site next to small business accounting and marketing, but it is essential to responsible business ownership, and something every business person needs a grasp on or you will find your customer base diminishing and drying up. When prospective clients or consumers view you as honest and trustworthy, and even kind and generous, they’re more likely to want to patronize your small business.
Therefore I recommend that we all come to important decisions in formulating a small business philosophy that encompasses business ethics and the Golden Rule. In doing this small exercise in business planning, you’ll be doing your customers a favor, and doing yourself a favor too.