Marketplace Leaders

Running a small business is challenging at best.  Between competition; hard to please customers; making tough decisions; dealing with poor decisions; dodging those who want to overcharge you; not getting paid for the work you do; misunderstandings and breakdown in communications; trying to run operations, marketing, accounting, human resources (should you be so blessed as to have employees to help you)… should I go on?

So how do we keep ourselves balanced?  How do we rise above the challenges?  How do we separate ourselves from seen as “just another person being out to get you”?  One word…integrity.

What is integrity and how can it be translated into the sometimes “cutthroat” world of business?   Integrity used in the context of the business world can be defined as “the adherence to moral and ethical principles” This is not always easy to do.  It’s easier to take the low road of compromising these principles.  But what is the payoff for that?  Eventually, a lack of integrity will backfire. So how does integrity relate to the questions I mentioned earlier?

How do we keep ourselves balanced?

As I see it, when you don’t intentionally adhere to professional standards and moral principles in your business life, it becomes easier to make bad decisions.  These decisions could have a negative effect not only on your business, but also your professional image which then leads to people not trusting you.  Once people stop trusting you it leads to a decrease in revenue which leads to an inability to support your family, which leads to tension, which leads to physical, emotional and mental imbalance causing your whole life to be out of balance.

How do we rise above the challenges?

I think the decision to live our lives and run our business with integrity needs to be put in place intentionally and without wavering.  I know it’s often difficult to stay consistent in adhering to professional standards and moral principles but in the end we will have less challenges if we deliberately set out to maintain certain standards within our business and personal life.  For the small business owner…who one is personally is often who they will be professionally; because we are the face of our business.

How do we separate ourselves from being perceived as just another person “out to get you”?

Be real…be honest. If we strive to do what is right personally, we will easily transfer that value to our business.  I, personally, believe we don’t have to put on two separate faces…the personal face and the business face.  If we are two different people, how will people get to know you and trust you?

Sometimes, we have to make decisions that hurt for the sake of integrity.  Do we keep our prices consistent or raise them depending on our own need?  Do we say we can do something we can’t do just to get the job or do we tell them up front that we don’t have the ability to do what they need and refer them to someone who can?

If we are careful to maintain a sense of integrity by always being up front and honest with others, we will earn their trust; even if it means you have to admit you made a mistake.  And speaking of mistakes…we all make them.  We all have failures.  When someone fails…give grace.  We’re human.  I don’t wear rose-colored glasses thinking that I will always and forever make all the right decisions.  We will fail.  We will make mistakes.  Admit them, try to correct them and move on.  If the mistake was made by someone else, give grace to the person and move on.

Yes, sometimes being honest hurts; but in the end it’s what keeps you from being identified as “just another person who is out to get you” but rather a person your business associates will know they can trust.  Isn’t that who you want to do business with?

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”  — Mark Twain http://www.leadershipnow.com/integrityquotes.html

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