Business Ethics 101 | How to build an ethical businessJun 08, 2021
Recently something in my life happened which I think needs addressing - because someone questioned my ethics when it came to running a business.
Furthermore - and conveniently timed, It’s also come to my attention that not everybody thinks ethics are something you need to worry about when running a business.
So... let’s talk about it?
Welcome welcome welcome!
It’s great as always to see all your smiling faces, I hope you are well?
It feels like it’s been a while since we’ve been able to chat as friends... all of these tech reviews are good for the stats but don't really help the business owners amongst us.
So I'm back again for another rant this week, and it’s actually been some people in the business community that’s pissed me off recently.
Firstly I guess some perspective on where I’m coming from - I started a business in 2011 called Tekkers IT Solutions. Started from the back of my living room as most businesses begin, with a goal to provide excellent IT support to local businesses, and that was because I enjoyed fixing things.
I felt there was a gap in the market, and thought I could help.
It was never to get rich quick, make as much profit as I could, sell as much as possible - the goal was clear, to provide the very best IT support to local businesses.
I worked my ass off from 2011 through to earlier last year, when we sold the business.
That’s 9 years of hard graft, often working long days to make sure we were always improving and doing things better than we did the day before, and always working to do the right thing for our customers.
In the last decade, I have learned so much about running a business - and I believe I already touched on this in another video which I'll link here for you... but I have always intentionally tried to do the right thing, even sometimes when that has cost me time or actual physical money to put things right, because I genuinely want to do a good job, do the right thing, and just... be nice! It's how my parents brought me up...
When running a business, most of the time you have zero clue what you are doing. Heck, spoiler alert - I still have zero clue what I'm doing most of the time.
But there are of course times where you fall outside the line, completely unintentionally, genuine mistakes that we as business owners make. I spoke about that one and a few others in an older video once.
WHAT'S ETHICS GOT TO DO WITH IT?
What does ethics have to do with all of this?
Well, other than the recent accusation on my own ethics which is a story for another day, but it’s come to my attention recently that a local business has been failing this ethical standard on at least 2 accounts, maybe more.
Firstly, you know all of those accreditation’s that you business owners work hard as nuts to obtain? The accountants who train to become ACCA certified, solicitors who study to pass the bar? Well, in the IT world, we typically have partnerships with the big companies who provide the actual products and services that we resell. And depending on how much training we do, how many exams people take, and sometimes, how much money we make them by selling their products - we are rewarded with say, a Gold partnership level, or Platinum partner, to show our customers that we really know our stuff.
Some of those badges, which we wear with pride - can be the most difficult to obtain, with the number of companies who have obtained them I could count on just these 2 hands.
So for someone to show these badges of honour on their website, to show their customers that they are proud to be a Platinum Partner this, Gold Solutions Provider that... well, you probably aren’t surprised, given the name of this post, that they hold none of the certifications. Ethics Fail #1.
Ethics Fail #2 came when talking to other IT Business owners, only to discover that this same company had approached them to ask if they could use them to provide IT Support to their customers.
Here’s the kicker - for the pleasure of them being given business, they think splitting the revenue 50/50 was acceptable.
Like, what the duck?
This company is now posting all about how they now offer revolutionary IT Support to their clients, yet it’s anything but.
And whilst this video is highlighting my opinion of how not to run a business - I want to pinpoint one thing in particular here.
If you are a small business, and you are struggling to grow, maybe you’re a 1 man band and just starting out, looking for that big break to break even...
Please don’t agree to give away 50% of everything you are working your nuts off for. We all know that there just isn’t space for giving away 50% of your margins ... particularly in the IT world, 50% margin is just insane!
Maybe in the telecoms world, there is... maybe I’m in the wrong job...
You know, I was sitting in a local hotel a few years ago and I overheard a sales meeting. A telecoms company was running through their weekly leads, and one of them proudly claimed that they managed to ‘get away with a 60% markup on a sales inquiry that week.
60% ducking percent!
Ethics Fail #2 - and err 3 I guess. Ethics go through all aspects of the supply chain.
I remember one moment in my career where we had to renew something for a customer, but they took too long to decide and so the quote with our supplier expired.
We tried to re-quote and get them to honor the same price, but they wouldn't and instead gave us a quote that had gone up a fair bit in price.
What happened? Well, another, much larger provider had also quoted, and they had the same issue with the renewal.
Except for this provider somehow managed to get the price renewed at the same cost.
When I asked one of their engineers how they managed this, they said that they basically get whatever they want because they're so big.
Like - seriously?!
You know what, of all of these things that I've mentioned in my post so far, what's the common thing that is going to happen here? You lose faith with those people, those companies - completely and utterly.
I know that I will never ever sell the products from that supplier who screwed us over - not in a million years. If they're not going to support me to help me grow my business, well they can get stuffed.
It's the same with the company who now offers 'IT Support' when they're just outsourcing it, and it's the same with my more personal situation recently - in that, they lose your respect, completely and utterly. Instead, that respect will go towards the other businesses out there who are doing everything to their best ability, and not trying to pull the wool over your eyes.
So just be mindful of those when you are working with, be it people, businesses, or suppliers - if you are someone like me who likes to deal with nice people, who conduct business professionally, with personality then make sure they are who you want to work with.
Just - BE NICE. Okay?
Because Shock Horror - You CAN build a successful business without screwing over everybody.
I have zero time for people who will screw over anybody just to make a bit of extra cash.
So a 2 pronged post this week.
Prong 1 - If you run a business, don't short-change yourself by giving away all the profit to someone else for doing none of the work.... just don't.
Prong 2 - Before you get into bed with a company, whether it's IT, Accounts, Legal - whatever, then do due diligence checks. Look at their website, find out who their customers are, and pick up the phone. If they have certifications, a quick google online will normally tell you if they are legitimate or not. If you're not sure, then ask a friend - maybe even ping me a DM on LinkedIn or Twitter and I'll help recommend someone.
That's all from me this week, next time on what grinds my gears, we can talk about those people who think chocolate should not be kept in the fridge... you weird people - until then, bye bye!
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