Unfortunately, we live in a day and age where it is becoming increasingly hard to differentiate between a scam and a legitimate business.
With integrity up for interpretation, ethical lines blurred daily, money put above people and anyone becoming an ‘expert’, how do you set yourself apart and ensure you stay true to your principles?
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Here are four tips to help you operate with ethics and integrity in your business dealings and ensure you are in business for the long term.
1. Know your principles and stick to them
In business, ethics can be tested regularly, so you need to know where you stand with your principles. What is non-negotiable to you and what will depend on circumstances? If it is dependent, what circumstances or situations will cause you to “bend” your rules?
Knowing your negotiables and non-negotiables ahead of time will help you make the right decision and uphold your ethics in highly emotive and stressful situations.
2. Be wary how you position yourself
Anyone and everyone can be an expert these days, so it’s important to be careful that you don’t misrepresent yourself.
While “faking it until you make it” can be effective in helping you appear bigger than you are, it can also give a false impression of who you are and what you can do depending on how much “faking” you do.
It is fine to appear confident, to sell yourself well and act like you don’t need the business; it’s another thing to pretend you are something you’re not.
Remember too that customers will place expectations on you based on their perceptions. If their perceptions of you are inaccurate or unrealistic chances are so are there expectations, and if you don’t meet or address them you may end up losing their business.
3. Never let a sale come before your integrity
Often a sale or the possibility of winning a large account or customer can cause some people to have a lapse in judgment and exaggerate the value they can provide a customer.
Perhaps it’s a case of slightly inflating your results, making out you’ve worked with bigger or more prominent customers than you have, saying you have had more experience than what you do or other small ‘white lies’ that help you look bigger or more desirable.
However harmless these ‘white lies’ can seem, they are still dishonest and have the potential to affect your professionalism, credibility and perceived integrity if found out.
By all means go after the sale, just showcase the true value you provide and look to add more value where necessary.
4. Choose your business partners and alliances wisely
Make sure anyone you partner or align with has the same level of integrity you do. While you may have strong ethics in the way you do business, you don’t always know nor have a say on how other professionals you are aligned with conduct theirs.
For this reason, make sure you do your due diligence before you start working closely with others.
How do you ensure you act with integrity in business?