Ethics for Entrepreneurs: An Introduction
Ethics is defined as the moral principles that govern a person’s behavior or the conducting of an activity. My first introduction to this topic of ethics came when I was in my twenties and becoming a real estate agent. A course on ethics was required before I could even sit for the state exam, and in it I learned that many people acted unethically and subsequently lost their real estate license as a result of their misguided actions.
Everything I read and that was discussed at that time made perfect sense to me. There was no gray area when it came to ethics and our actions were either right or wrong in each case. Then I began working in my first real estate office and I found myself scratching my head regularly when it came to the actions and behavior among my fellow agents.
Justifying these questionable (at least to me) practices seemed to be the preferred method, and I found myself wondering if I was just being too rigid in my thinking. But I knew right from wrong and when someone in my office was arrested for something she had done with a real estate transaction I knew that I had been correct in my thinking and beliefs from the very beginning.
Ethics for Entrepreneurs
In 2006 I came online as an entrepreneur, and once again ethics was at the forefront of my thinking. Now we were hiding behind our computer screens from who knows where in the world. Would this make it easier for those who were already leaning towards unethical behavior to carry out their illegal and immoral practices?
My experience has been a positive one in this regard. Even though there will always be people who are tempted to bend the letter of the law, the overwhelming majority of the people I continue to work alongside on the internet have the highest moral character and integrity of anyone I have ever known. And what I love the best about the online, connected world of today is that everything we say or do has the potential to be recorded and shared with others. Perhaps this can be seen as a serious loss of privacy, but I feel that our reputations can most definitely rise above it. If I am in a public place or on a public site, wouldn’t it just make sense that I would welcome the opportunity for others to see firsthand how I behave and react in a variety of situations?
I am reminded of my first year as a classroom teacher, where the Union had us go through a series of “work actions” leading up to a month long strike. Shocked at the behavior of some of my fellow teachers, I vowed then and there to never engage in any behavior that I wouldn’t want my students to see out of me. This decision has served me well over the years.
If you are a new entrepreneur, take the time to think about your beliefs around ethics for entrepreneurs and how everything you say or do may affect your reputation in either a positive or a negative way. When you are wrong, apologize instead of making a justification. And steadfastly refuse to do business with anyone who is unethical.
I’m author and online marketing strategist Connie Ragen Green. I work with entrepreneurs to create multiple streams of online income and would love to connect with you. Pick up my Online Entrepreneur’s Blueprint and get started right away.
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Also published on Medium.