“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.” ~ Mark Twain

Honesty in business is important. In the small business world, news quickly gets around about business owners who value their customers and conduct themselves in an ethical way – the same holds true for businesses that are not so ethical.

In starting my own business, I have had to learn the hard way that not everyone is honest in their business dealings.

In a competitive world where small businesses need to stand out in order to survive, honesty is even more important. Here are a few tips for running an ethical and honest business:

1. Treat People With Respect

You’ve probably been taught to treat people how you’d like to be treated. The same holds true in business. Customers will notice when they are being treated fairly and respectfully. If a customer has an issue or is upset, it’s even more important that we listen to them and ensure they are properly taken care of. Your customer’s reaction is simply a sign that they are frustrated and angry.

Honesty is the Best Policy - When There is Money in It

2. Honesty is the Best Policy – When There is Money in It

Mark Twain said this best. This saying was common knowledge in Missouri where I grew up.

Whether it comes down to a testimonial for your website or deciding what fee to charge for your service, it pays to be honest and fair in all you do. Misuse of information or a testimonial can come back and bite you, and it’s just not worth the hassle in the first instance.

You can always start out with testimonials from family members or friends which are still honest. When it comes to fees for services, it’s not to say you should undercharge for your services or necessarily use other businesses as a guide, but do think about your customers and whether or not you feel your fees are truly fair all around.

3. Don’t Cut Corners

If a customer is paying good money for a set service then they will expect to receive that service to a high level. It’s important to maintain a high standard and not cut corners – whether it’s in regards to products or services. Taking shortcuts can lead to business disaster and a not so positive reputation.

4. Give Back

Not everyone will agree that all businesses inherently have a responsibility to their communities and those less fortunate, but wouldn’t the world be a better place if perhaps they did? Not every person can manage to start a profitable business or work at a high-paying job. Giving back to the community, even in the smallest of ways, can make a difference to all involved. Volunteer your time with causes that are valuable to you and your business.

And you don’t have to be a large business to give back; a little goes a long way. Donating to a book fund at your local school or helping to build a community garden, giving back can take ways in many forms and is beneficial to everyone. If financially it’s not viable for you to give back, how about offering an entrepreneurship to a local teen who would like to start a business? With a little thought, it’s easy to find a way to make a difference.

5. Stick to Your Word

This is a fundamental part of good business ethics. Whether it’s meeting your deadlines or following through with a venture you agreed to, sticking to your word is always the best policy. People will come to respect you for your dependability and honesty. Customers are more likely to want to do business with someone they know they can rely on and you’ll feel better for accomplishing something that is often not easy for many.

Sometimes things happen and it’s difficult for us to follow through but wherever possibly try your best. It will pay dividends in the long run. Not to mention it simply being the right thing to do.


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