Ethics refers to the “heart and soul” of the activities you engage in while starting your business. How authentic and truthful you are during the startup phase will set the stage for the future ethical threshold of your new venture. As the founder and chief visionary behind the concept you are bringing to market, it is your responsibility to create the values and company culture that will be your business. Once a company culture is set, it is virtually impossible to alter the path that you have set for your new venture to follow. One way to try to ensure the ethical standards of your company is to first make sure that you have a good moral compass.
Your “moral compass” is the ethical stance you take on decisions and actions with your startup.
Here are some questions to consider when developing your own moral compass:
- What will the new venture’s code of ethics state?
- How will I make decisions for the startup that will limit my revenue potential but will ultimately be the correct action to take legally and ethically?
- What can I do to ensure that the people I hire have good values?
- Who will I go to for advice when I have a moral/ethical dilemma?
- Will I be capable of following the advice that I receive for taking the right ethical action?
- How will I know what is ethical and what is not?
- What processes will I put in place to make sure that my staff and the stakeholders I associate the startup with are acting ethically at all times?
- What will I do if a staff member or key stakeholder I’m associating with violates my new venture’s code of ethics?
- In a crisis how will I communicate to my stakeholders the situation in the most ethical manner possible?
- How often will I cross check that I’m following my new venture’s code of ethics?
- What seminars, classes and guidance can I find to make sure I’m acting ethically when running the startup?
- What people can I go to in order to gain a role model/mentor for acting ethically with my startup?
- If I end up doing something that was unethical what will be my process to correct the situation and to communicate the situation to my stakeholders?
- Will I listen to my gut if I have a strange ethical reaction to someone or something?
- Is there anything else I should ask myself to develop my moral compass?
It turns out in business that self-awareness of one's action is a key component to understanding how to develop an ethical moral compass. Additionally, the translation of an entrepreneur’s moral compass into the development of a new venture leads to the establishment of the businesses’ company culture. The “company culture” is the values you decide to instill in the new venture.