Maintaining Business Integrity

Whether you run a business locally or on a global scale, how you present your products and services to the business community at large says a lot about your personal integrity and the integrity of your business.

To “put yourself out there” means that, more than likely, you will be judged by everyone who views your ads or inquires about your product or service. Even if someone never does business with you, the fact that you advertise, have a client base, and ask those clients for referrals sends a message that you're open for business. And if there’s one element you want nailed down about how you approach business, it’s found in your integrity principles and how you apply them.

Merriam-Webster (www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity) defines “integrity” as:

·         firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values: incorruptibility
·         an unimpaired condition: soundness
·         the quality or state of being complete or undivided: completeness

How closely does your attitude about business meet this definition and do you actually apply it?

NEVER Lie to a Client

Despite the simplicity of this statement, sometimes it is a hard principle to follow, because sometimes it seems easier to tell “a little white lie” or “a harmless fib” to a client than it is to tell the truth; for example, when you're in a situation where you can’t deliver the goods or services on time.

Lying, or attempting to lie, to a client is a big mistake. Ultimately, you get caught in that little white lie or what seems like that harmless fib that you have every intention of correcting before the truth comes out. The sad truth, however, is that you first lie to yourself and then to your client.

Is that really a standard you want to set for yourself, or for your employees to set for themselves or for your business? If they lie, are they acting on their own or mimicking you? What does allowing this type of client interaction say about you and your business?

However unintentional or small a lie may be, allowing it to go unchecked says that you are willing to compromise your personal integrity, as well as that of your business or the business you represent. But just how long do you think your business will maintain its otherwise good reputation if either you or someone who represents you lies? Even with the best of intentions, confusion can happen if a highly motivated individual (for example, an employee or well-meaning advocate) oversteps their authority. Most people think that they are helping a business when, in fact, such actions adversely affect the flow of business and basic relationships.

Regardless of how harmless a misleading comment or action might be, some repercussions can be severe in lost sales and a diminished reputation. In addition to affecting client relationships, repercussions can also extend to business vendors and contractors. Most people want to do business in a reputable manner. But humans make mistakes, and being in business neither removes nor excuses human tendencies to err. Reputable people tend to overlook and forgive occasional mistakes, but sometimes expanded communications are needed before all of the facts are known and things can be sorted out.

Despite the pain of being caught and then having to correct your own or your agent’s comments, actions, or outright lies, it is NEVER good policy to tell clients anything but the truth. People will forgive almost anything from you but lies, whether it’s in a personal or a business setting.
 
Negative Consequences and What To Do

In addition to lost revenues and a marred reputation, one of the greatest consequences of being untruthful in business is the loss of respect and trust, which can trickle down to existing and potential clients questioning the quality of your products and services.

In any dispute, face and resolve the discrepancies at their very roots as quickly as possible. If an employee’s comments and/or actions in any way have come into play, politely but directly address the issue with them to correct the misunderstanding as soon as possible, and then personally smooth your client’s ruffled feathers. If the client perceives you as the problem, sometimes you might have to bite the bullet for the sake of your business, its product and services, and/or of your team.

No matter what negative factors or conditions led either you or someone in your organization to exaggerate the facts, most misunderstandings can be rectified when the parties share their views and clarify the differences of opinion on an issue, and then the business owner takes command and corrects the mistake.

Remember, business is about products and services, customer service, and profits. Confusion and misunderstandings are bound to occur at some points, but how you as the business owner approach opposition at any level truly does make or break the relationships and the success of your business.


Loyalty is a definite asset in business, and one of your goals is to maintain and recruit good clients, and you can best accomplish this by being loyal to every aspect of your business. Tactful, respectful, and honest exchanges do heal rough edges and promote renewed trust.      

Honesty is the BEST Policy   

Maintaining your business integrity is always at stake, so make honesty the number one rule for everyone in your business by setting the example. It is a cornerstone that builds great relationships, and great relationships ultimately lead to increased growth.

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CYNTHIA BULL (www.cynrje.com) is an internationally published writer and editor who helps international authors, marketers and speakers add greater value to their products through her top-quality writing, editing and transcription services. She is the author of How To Be A Medical Transcriptionist and Winning At Work While Balancing Your Life, a contributing author of Walking with the Wise Entrepreneur (Mentors Publishing House), cited in Make BIG Profits on eBay (Entrepreneur Press), and Managing Editor of Mentors Magazine Think & Grow Rich Edition. Cynthia has created over 200 book products in the past two years for her clients and, as mentor, helps clients reach their goals through her products, experience and genuine caring.

Cynthia writes this feature article exclusively for Debbie May (http://www.debbiemay.com/), an organization dedicated to helping small businesses succeed.