The days of companies being able to rip people off, safe in the knowledge that there will be no recompense, are long gone. Whatever your industry, reputation matters more than ever in our interconnected world. Whether you are a restaurant, a hotel, a shop, an accountant or a retailer, savvy customers will know to steer clear if your product or service will not be of benefit to them. We have online review sites, TripAdvisor and social media to thank for that.
But running an ethical business is about more than just not ripping people off. It turns the whole concept of having a business on its head.
So ask yourself this: Why are you in business? Is it to make money? Or is it to do something meaningful?
For those answering the former, if your sole motivation is to make money, what is the purpose? Don’t get me wrong, I think that most people in business (especially start-ups!) would like more money; to travel, take away the worries of debt, and to enjoy the opportunities that having more money affords. But if money is the be all and end all, when do you stop? When do you become satisfied? Do you ever get to that point? Or do you just always end up wanting more?
Instead of setting money as your main objective; how about considering all of the people that you can touch, all of the lives that you can change for the better, all of the positives that you can achieve by running an ethical business? If your motivation is to help people, then you will be driven to make your business a success, because the more your business grows, the greater an impact you will have.
And this is not just about growth for your business. Running an ethical business has a knock-on effect. Not only will you attract customers and clients in a whole new way thanks to your alignment with their principles, thanks to them falling in love with all that you stand for, and thanks to their five-star reviews for the fabulous product or service that you have to offer; but you will also show other business owners that there is a better way to do business.
It is time to move away from the profit motive. In 2018, this world needs more people to stand up and make it known that they are here to do good. It is time to change the narrative from individualist greed to making the world a better place. Businesses can lead the way in conserving resources, treating individuals with respect, encouraging people to develop and grow, and in being forces for good in society.
As business owners, we are in a unique position when it comes to our ability to influence the society in which we live. Let’s choose to do better. If you want more satisfaction from your business, make it about doing good, about helping others and about changing our world for the better. Make it your primary aim to help other people, and your business will flourish.
Lucy Pembayun is a German-English translator and founder of LEaF Translations.