How to be Ethical in Business

Trust Your Gut.

I had an experience a number of years ago that was a turning point for me. I was a broker/realtor, back in the day. I was approached by another realtor with an “opportunity” to make some serious extra money. I had a decision to make, that in my gut didn’t feel right, but the money involved was tempting. So, long story short, I jumped in and regretted it ever since. I didn’t trust my gut. Since then, I have had other “opportunities” presented to me, but I trusted my gut and walked away. In each case, by passing on these unethical business opportunities, I eventually had better opportunities that felt right in my gut and they turned out to be rewarding financially and spiritually.

We have this strange idea that being ethical is in conflict with business. The reality is that it is much easier to be unethical and not so profitable, but if you can succeed as an entrepreneur while being ethical, it’s much more rewarding.

The Ethical Dilemma

I appreciate that some people are turned off by business and believe business is inherently unethical. Some might like the idea of being their own boss, but would never consider starting a business because they would cease to be an ethical and/or a spiritual person. Others might like the idea of building something on their own, but just feel they would have to take advantage of others to have success. Still others might like both the idea and the challenge, but just feel uncomfortable with sales or money in general.

Wherever you fall on this scale, I hope you’ll at least take away a message from my experience, which has been both rewarding and chock full of mistakes. I’ve learned how to avoid common pitfalls and how important it is to be honest with yourself throughout the process. In other words, I’ve learned how to succeed as an entrepreneur when you are an ethical person.

Trust Your Gut

A lot of people will tell you that following your passion is the most important thing. Yes, in certain situations, following your passion can lead to a rewarding life. But, passion alone is not the best way to make decisions; it can be too biased and too fickle to be a trusting advisor. The right advice is more subtle: trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right to you, don’t do it. If something feels weird or icky or uncomfortable, pay attention to that feeling. It’s almost certainly telling stay away! But on the other hand if in your gut it feels right, and the ethics match up with the business strategy, then it’s almost certainly saying take the next step, and maybe take the leap. Trust your gut.

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