7 Ways to Be More Ethical Than Your Competition

For Long-Term Success and Growth

Businessmen shaking hands
••• Klaus Vedfelt/ Riser/ Getty Images

One of the most important attributes for small business success is the distinguishing quality of practicing admirable business ethics. Business ethics practiced throughout the deepest layers of a company, become the heart and soul of the company's culture and can mean the difference between success and failure.

In the research study, "Does Business Ethics Pay?" by The Institute of Business Ethics (IBE), it was found that companies displaying a "clear commitment to ethical conduct" consistently outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct. The Director of IBE, Philippa Foster Black, stated: "Not only is ethical behavior in business life the right thing to do in principle, but we have also shown that it pays off in financial returns."

These findings, and the seven ways to increase ethics listed below, deserve to be considered as an important insight for companies striving for long-term success and growth.

Be Trustworthy

Recognize that customers want to do business with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core of a company, it's easy to recognize. Trust defined, is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, and truth of business.

Keep an Open Mind

For continuous improvement of a company, the leader of an organization must be open to new ideas. Ask for opinions and feedback from both customers and team members and your company will continue to grow.

Meet Obligations

Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your power to gain the trust of past customers and clients, particularly if something has gone awry. Reclaim any lost business by honoring all commitments and obligations.

Have Clear Documents

Re-evaluate all print materials including small business advertising, brochures, and other business documents making sure they are clear, precise and professional. Most importantly, make sure they do not misrepresent or misinterpret.

Become Involved in Your Community

Remain involved in community-related issues and activities, thereby demonstrating that your business is a responsible community contributor. In other words, stay involved.

Maintain Accounting Control

Take a hands-on approach to bookkeeping and accounting, not only as a means of gaining a better feel for the progress of your company but as a resource for any "questionable" activities. Gaining control of accounting and record-keeping allows you to end any dubious activities promptly.

Be Respectful

Treat others with the utmost respect. Regardless of differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of distinctions, always treat others with professional respect and courtesy.

Recognizing the significance of business ethics as a tool for achieving your desired outcome is only the beginning. A small business that instills a deep-seated theme of business ethics within its strategies and policies will be evident among customers. Its overall influence will lead to a profitable, successful company. By recognizing the value of practicing admirable business ethics, and following each of the 7 principles, your success will not be far off.