Being a good entrepreneur takes more than a creative idea and a superior work ethic. It also requires understanding the importance of ethical business practices, giving back to your community and running your business in a way that minimizes harm to others and the environment.
The Importance of Ethics
Some business people get caught up in moneymaking and lose sight of the importance of doing the right thing. Companies like Enron and individuals like Bernard Madoff are two of the more spectacular "crash and burn" stories that represent where this train of thought can take you. Engaging in business with the intention of ripping people off or seeing what you can get away with creates a business environment of distrust and hostility. When you take on business with an attitude of service and the intention of making a living by providing your community with needed goods and services, you add to, rather than detract from, the general good.
How a company treats its workers is the first test of its ethical soundness. An entrepreneur who attempts to cheat or underpay his employees will probably find his company experiencing low morale, high staff turnover and possibly even problems with theft or sabotage. Treating your employees well is the right thing to do, but it will also benefit you because most people will respond in kind, developing good work habits and a loyalty to the company. Maintaining open lines of communication with workers is necessary to know how they are feeling about things and to be sure that everyone is benefiting from their association with your company.
If you run a retail operation, it is obvious how dependent your business is on customers. Working in retail gives you the opportunity to personally treat customers well and express your appreciation when they support your business. The best way to do this is to make a point of always providing goods and services that are as good as you can make them. An entrepreneur with a healthy ethical sense realizes that doing your best every day is not only a good business decision but an ethical choice as well. Offering customers superior goods at a fair price allows them to benefit from your business.
It is difficult, and perhaps impossible, to engage in business while having no impact on the environment. There are many ways that a business can minimize its impact on the natural world, including recycling, carpooling, minimizing packaging and reducing wasteful business practices such as junk mail. A business also has a public profile that entrepreneurs can effectively use to promote environmentally sound practices. While all of these activities have a practical basis in that they increase the cleanliness of your environment and the public reputation of your business, they also have a basis in the ethical challenge of treating the natural world with the respect and gratitude that it deserves.