Ethics: the Conscience of Every Business

Posted on 21. Feb, 2009 by in Business ethics

John Platania asked:

At the foundation of every business is a philosophy, a conscience if you will; businesses cannot function without these. This applies to both online and offline businesses. What drives the conscience of a business, however, is a set of rules that everyone knows and follows. These rules, or ethics, are considered obligatory and reflect not only laws pertaining to any given field and business in general, but also a sense of fair-mindedness and civility regarding proper conduct and the treatment of others—especially customers.

The thing with ethics is that entrepreneurs, and even the patrons themselves, must stay abreast of all applicably codes of conduct, written and implied, as well as the needs and preferences of their respective societies. A customer’s freedom to make informed choices regarding the businesses with whom they deal allows everyday interactions to become mutually beneficial to everyone involved. Ignorance is bliss, the saying goes, but not in the business world. How people conduct themselves reflect this. Shoppers, for instance, are not likely to feel confident by the judgement of businesses representatives who have no idea how to answer their questions or service them properly and satisfactorily. No one benefits from this, and both the customer and the business suffers. Lying and “winging it” don’t cut it, as that shows a blatant disregard and disrespect toward others and will hurt everyone; having and dispensing correct and up-to-date knowledge on merchandise and service will guarantee success.

As far as marketing goes, fair and equitable prices go a long way. Although quite a few entrepreneurs insist that higher prices bring greater profit, shoppers will gravitate to other markets where the merchandise they want can be obtained at a far cheaper cost. People like to save, and even though many might be desperate at times, they are drawn to low prices and bargains. Business persisting with merchandise in the higher price range eventually fail as a result. Comparing prices between competitors, not to mention doing research on what people are typically willing and able to spend on certain products, ensures that business representatives provide satisfactory service for the public. In the end, operations win favorable appraise and profits grow considerably.

At the heart of all this is honesty. Someone lied—it isn’t a crock. Being truthful, sincere, straightforward and genuine with others, and offering quality merchandise and service is always the best way to go. This is because shoppers return where they are appreciated and welcome, where they trust those who provide what they want and need, without hassle or complaining. The public might be uninformed regarding some things, but people are not stupid and do not tolerate being treated as if they are. Deception eventually comes to light, and businesses (and shoppers) who deal in such practices are subject to legal penalties and irreparably scrupulous reputations.

Ethical situations abound every day, which is why proper conduct can quite often be sticky. Being up on what these “rules” are is crucial for creating an atmosphere that is acceptable and pleasing. Terms like “trust,” “honesty,” “positive image” and “mutual respect” are involved for a reason; they are not only plastic words for describing an ideal world—they denote a social and economic way of life.

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