If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. — Alan K. Simpson
If I were to ask you what attribute is the most influential in regard to the success of a business, would you know immediately which one is the most important? Based on my many years as a business owner and entrepreneur, I have discovered that at the very top of the list is the distinguishing quality of integrity. Without integrity at the helm of a company, a business is usually short-lived. In fact, when business integrity is present throughout the deepest layers of a company and not just at its surface, it becomes the heart and soul of the company’s culture and can mean the difference between a company that succeeds and a company that falters.
The importance of integrity has always existed among the business community, but in recent times has been shown as falling short. It is the Internet’s immeasurable impact on the global marketplace that is now making the expression of integrity, reliability and credibility extremely important. Furthermore, the consequence of global competition means that customers will simply not consider a company that shows any less than the highest level of integrity. Since there is a wealth of competitive companies easily available and accessible via the Internet, there is in fact no need to accept anything less than the best.
In an effort to build upon a foundation of integrity, the first requirement would be to establish excellent rapport with clients. Based on many years of study, the best and most practiced method for achieving rapport is by way of Relationship Marketing. Just as it sounds, Relationship Marketing is founded on the single and most critical characteristic, known as “Integrity.” However, achieving true integrity with clients often leaves many an entrepreneur bewildered, grasping for techniques and strategies that guarantee their futures. But integrity is not something that can be grasped and then simply used. Integrity in its essence must be so ingrained within the nature of an individual, its company and the team members, that it remains steadfast no matter what. Without question, others sense it and find it very attractive.
Now you are probably asking yourself, what is the true nature of integrity? There are in fact some very basic principles that surround the qualities of business integrity. At its core, integrity begins with a company leader who understands the qualities of integrity which then filters down throughout the company into every department and every member’s approach and attitude.
In recent research performed by the Institute of Business Ethics- an organization which is among the world’s leaders in promoting corporate ethical best practices, it was found that companies displaying a “clear commitment to ethical conduct” almost invariably outperform companies that do not display ethical conduct. The Director of the Institute of Business Ethics, Philippa Foster Black, stated: “Not only is ethical behavior in the business world the right and principled thing to do, but it has been proven that ethical behavior pays off in financial returns.” These findings deserve to be considered as an important tool for companies striving for long-term prospects and growth.
The following 7 Principles of Business Integrity are the basics of integrity and a good starting off place to consider. By integrating each of these principles within a company environment, the result will be nothing short of a major rebirth of the enterprise.
Principle #1: Recognize that customers/clients want to do business with a company they can trust; when trust is at the core of a company, it is easy to recognize. Trust defined is assured reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of a business.
Principle #2: For continuous improvement of a company, the leader of an organization must be willing to open up to ideas for betterment. Ask for opinions and feedback from both customers and team members and your company will continue to grow.
Principle #3: Regardless of the circumstances, do everything in your power to gain the trust of past customer’s and clients, particularly if something has gone awry. Do what you can to reclaim any lost business by honoring all commitments and obligations.
Principle #4: Re-evaluate all print materials including small business advertising, brochures and other business documents making sure they are clear, precise and professional; most important make sure they do not misrepresent or misinterpret.
Principle #5: Remain involved in community-related issues and activities thereby demonstrating that your business is a responsible community contributor. In other words, stay involved.
Principle #6: Take a hands-on approach in regard to accounting and record keeping, 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.
Principle #7: Treat others with the utmost of respect. Regardless of differences, positions, titles, ages, or other types of distinctions, always treat others with professional respect and courtesy.
While it is most certainly an integral and positive step for a small business to recognize the significance of integrity as a tool for achieving its desired outcomes, that is only the beginning. What must truly be recognized for true success is that while certain precise universal principles lead to business integrity, it is in the overall mindset of the company and the unfailing implementation of these key elements that an enterprise is truly defined. A small business that instills a deep-seated theme of integrity within its strategies and policies will not only be evident among customers, associates and partners, but its overall influence cannot help but to result in a profitable, successful company. By recognizing the value of integrity, and following each of the aforementioned 7 principles for achieving integrity, your success cannot be far off.
Robert Moment is a best-selling author, business coach, strategist and the founder of The Moment Group, a consulting firm dedicated to helping small businesses win federal contracts. He just released his new book, It Only Takes a Moment to Score, and recently unveiled Sell Integrity, a small business tool that helps you successfully sell your business idea.
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