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  • Writer's pictureProfessionalVA Ltd

To Be or Not To Be? – Ethical Business

Updated: Jun 7

In business, some people will tell you that you have to trample on others or do what you must – just to succeed. Small businesses have to be practical and pragmatic, don’t they?

They do indeed, but that doesn’t mean you have to abandon your principles and do business unethically. No matter the size, industry, or level of profitability of an organisation, business ethics are one of the most important aspects of long-term success.

Here we cover compelling reasons why ethics are important and why you need them.

Ethics are a Big Issue

In today’s hyper-connected society, ethics are an issue like never before. It’s much easier for anyone with a basic knowledge of the internet to check your claims and background, and even easier for them to broadcast the truth if you’re caught in a lie or misdeed.

You’d have to have been living on Mars with no connection to the world not to have seen global coverage of corporate wrongdoing – everything from banking scandals to food bug problems and major environmental pollution.

A photorealistic image featuring NASA Earth visuals: human hands hold a globe over a defocused cityscape illuminated by night lights.

While it may be the big names that are getting shamed in a big way, there’s no question that a small local business can have a major local impact, and local or national papers (depending on the size of the issue) can do a great deal of damage to your reputation.

The Snowball Effect

If you start off down the wrong track, the problems you create for yourself tend to multiply.

Like good behaviour, decisions that amount to bad behaviour often start small.

Workplace studies show incentives for little fibs slowly morph into incentives for big lies. Known as the ‘slippery slope effect’. It happens because if you decide to cover up or lie about one thing, it becomes difficult to back out of that situation without losing face – which means both business owners and workers need to be constantly vigilant for this kind of trap.

It may not even be that you’ve made a conscious decision to do wrong, just a series of small, hasty judgments that gradually take you off course. But eventually wrongdoing becomes so big, or so complicated, that almost inevitably it falls apart.

People Expect a Code of Ethics

Clients and customers expect to be treated fairly and well – some major companies will put this up front when dealing with suppliers, in that they expect their supply chain to engage with their ethical code before they come on board.

Even at an individual level, ethics matter, consumers say brand behaviour is an influencing factor when they make purchases. It goes without saying that you can’t afford to alienate so many of your customers. Being ethical can even give you a competitive advantage –companies with strong ethical principles also have higher profit margins. Consumers are putting their money where their principles are.

Good Reputation Mean Success

Ethics have to be followed from the start and pursued vigorously across your business, otherwise you will find yourself chasing problems down.

A carefully built reputation is founded on customers’ perceptions of you as ‘good people to deal with’ beliefs that depend on your reliability, product or service quality, fairness, openness, integrity, and honesty. The benefit of a good reputation is customers opting to buy your products or services when all else is equal with your competitors.

You might say ‘but I’d never do anything like that!’ Nevertheless, the chances are that on a smaller scale you’ll be tempted to do something that you know, on a personal level, is wrong. The best approach is to resist from the start and build ‘doing the right thing’ into your business culture. The Institute of Business Ethics believes businesses should ‘do the right thing’ because it’s the right thing to do; it’s as simple as that.

That’s why we at Professional VA Ltd are dedicated to, and passionate about delivering a high level of service from a company you know you can rely on from the start.

Customer trust is vital for small businesses, and we wouldn’t have it any other way.


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