Business Ethics and the Golden Rule

We were taught as children to do unto others as we’d like others to do unto us. Another way to say it is, treat others as we would wish to be treated. Easy enough said, often hard to do.

golden RuleTo be clear, the Golden Rule is not “I give so that you will give in return” — that’s reciprocity, the expectation that people will respond to each other in similar ways. An example in business might be, if we provide value in a billable service, we expect prompt payment. But also, if we provide poor service, we should not expect prompt payment, or payment at all!

The Golden Rule expects us to be fair, honest, generous, kind and all those things that are good according to ethical tradition. It expects us to empathize with others; to see things from another person’s point of view. It applies between two people, groups, and between individuals and groups.

In business, it’s tempting to put financial gain, or meeting production or sales goals, ahead of the Golden Rule. But if doing good has its rewards, won’t doing badly have its punishment? And isn’t it more practical to apply the Golden Rule in business than to ignore it?

If you do your best for your customer, they will be happy with you and reward you with prompt payment, referrals, and good business relationships. If you do your best for your employees, they will be happy in their jobs, be more productive, work harder, and provide better service to your customers. On the practical side, the statistics prove that companies that practice the Golden Rule in the workplace and with their customers thrive considerably more than those who don’t. (Source:Net Promoter System)

The Net Promotor System (above reference) refers to employees and customers as “promoters” who, because of golden rule-applied culture in business, are loyal, enthusiastic fans that sing the company’s praises to friends and colleagues and account for more than 80% of referrals in most businesses.

The Golden Rule’s financial impact on a business is simple:

  • Treat your employees as you would want to be treated, and they will work harder, be more enthusiastic about their job, better problem solvers, better with customers, stick around longer, and spread the word far and wide that your company is outstanding.
  • Treat your customers as you would want to be treated and they will be loyal to you and your company, be more willing to pay a fair price for products and services, refer you to friends and colleagues, buy more frequently, and spread the word far and wide that your company, your people, and your product or service is outstanding.

Bottom line—the Golden Rule matters.

The Art of the Elevator Speech

elevator SpeechNetworking events are a great way to meet people and forge new business relationships. If it’s a good fit for us, we attend. Still, many of us do a poor job of introducing ourselves.

Not knowing what to say about yourself is a common problem for business owners and the employees who represent them. Without a pre-rehearsed “elevator pitch” we may forfeit a possible business deal. Worst case, we end up talking to the same people over and again, wasting our time and money.

For example, if I say the standard, “Hi, I’m Diana Louiso. I own DLMoneyMatters. We do small business accounting and daily money management.”

A typical reaction might be, “Oh, you’re a numbers person?” or “Oh, you actually spend other people’s money?”

Accounting services is not exactly a great conversation starter, but solving problems might be!
For example, if I say “Hi, I’m Diana Louiso. We’re the people that handle your money so you have time to make more money. Or, for our dear seniors, we pay the bills so they can’t be deceived by frauds and scam artists.”

Now a typical reaction might be, “I could sure use more time to make money!” or “Oh, yes, my Aunt lost her entire savings to an online scam!”

So, introducing yourself by your job title can stop conversations before they begin, or lead to false assumptions about what you actually provide.

Introducing yourself by describing the problems you solve and the value you bring to the table is a far better conversation—one that can lead to a sale.