There was a time when integrity in business was the norm, a handshake or a conversation over lunch was as good as a signed and notarized contract. The snake oil salesman was always there throughout time, but he was the anomaly. Not so today. This is evident everywhere we look. Today everything is marketing to make us feel good and comfort us into a sort of mind control or create a sense of urgency and need to have something we most likely don't need at all.
We are tricked into price increases by buying products at the same price as last month, but the container has been transformed to carve out 15% of the product. We are promised the moon by a salesperson only to find out post-contract that everything is not nearly as glorious as the presentation. We are held hostage by proprietary systems and duped by disclaimers and cleverly crafted legal jargon. I hate to spew corny old adages such as "Money is the root of all evil", but alas, 'tis true. It seems business is now governed by a race to get the most money by whatever means necessary.
It seems to me that resorting to less than integral means in conducting business undermines the income potential a business needs. Integrity fosters trust and confidence with your clients that ensures a good reputation and repeat business. What does business integrity consist of? Allow me to expound:
First and foremost, make your products and/or services the best they can be.
Doing good business is good for business. Hold every member of your team accountable for that same integrity in their function of the company.
Simply put, tell the truth.
Carefully develop marketing materials to be sure they are clear and there is no misrepresentation. As long as I am throwing old adages around allow me to quote Mark Twain: "If you tell the truth, you never have to remember anything."
Replace quick money thinking with long-term steady growth strategies.
The desire to make a quick buck puts one in a position to make questionable decisions that may be regretted later.
Everyone makes mistakes. Make every attempt to address any complaints or issues a client has and do so quickly.
Any delay in responding could do damage to your reputation. As Henry Ford said, "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do". It takes a long time to build trust but only a moment to compromise it. Rebuilding lost trust results in a waste of time and money.
Treat everyone with respect regardless of age, education, position, etc.
Treat everyone with dignity and professionalism.
Instill integrity throughout all layers of your company, not just surface appearance.
In so doing, integrity will become ingrained and define your company steadfastly throughout all levels therefore establishing your company culture. People will be able to sense that without a big marketing campaign to convince them of it.