Business Ethics for Entrepreneurs

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Ethics is described in the Oxford English Dictionary as the science of moral conduct, a moral philosophy. That may seem on first reading as a simple and straightforward concept. Now, if only it did not involve us human beings. Most humans want to be well thought of ... that we were a good person. But the world in which we seek to do our best for ourselves is complex ... indeed few if any of its components are simple.

For example if we did something in developing our business with which someone disagreed we might be condemned by them and maybe even be brought to a change in our actions to enable us to survive their criticisms and so that we were all then happy.

However survival sometimes requires decisions of a more black and white nature where what is at stake is our survival itself. What then?

There we are ... the entrepreneur, our ethical obligations are clear. We must look after our employees and their welfare. We must exercise care to our customers who need and expect us to have their best interests at heart. They have that expectation because if they did not then they would not even dream of doing business with us. They trust us to give them the best value and do not mind paying what we ask because they sense that we know their requirements and their self-evident need for good value. Here then are our ethical duties ...

1. Staff

Our staff must be motivated and want to get out of their beds every day to come and work for us because they are being rewarded and because they enjoy doing what they do. Not only are they well rewarded but they see more to come by their effort working with us.

2. Customers

Our customers must enjoy dealing with us and our staff. They must sense that they are getting good service and value for money. If they do not sense that then we will lose them forever.

We will lose and our staff will lose.

3. Capital suppliers

Because we are an entrepreneur, we will have raised capital to support our venture and so we will have an obligation to meet the terms of that support. It might be a loan or overdraft facility from a bank or finance company. We will then have that obligation to them.
We may have secured support from shareholders who might be our family, friends or a listing on a stock exchange.

We then have acquired another obligation.

4. Ourselves

We have personal obligations ... yes of course we have an obligation to ourselves to achieve what we can to benefit ourselves. We may, as we progress through life acquire obligations to our family.

We may have children and wish to secure their future. We may have elderly relatives and want to care for their future.

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