Having a personal code of acceptable behavior is admirable, but it can sometimes be a little difficult to infuse those same ethics into your business. Having professional values may cost you money in the short term, but it will pay off over time. Entrepreneurs that are just getting started or those working with small budgets may find themselves tempted to take ethical shortcuts. The thing to remember is that it always comes back to haunt them.

Planning for unsavory situations can help prevent you from making mistakes that damage your reputation and industry relationships.

Be clear on your ethics

Ethics are usually based on your personal belief system. But your behavior should be guided by its potential effect on your business. You’ve worked hard to build your business, don’t sacrifice your reputation by doing favors or compromising your values for others. For example, a good friend asks you to give a fake reference for them – for a job that you know they’re not at all qualified for.

Will your loyalty to your friend override your personal values to the point that you are willing to potentially hurt another business owner by sending an unqualified employee their way? It’s questions and scenarios like that that help you to evaluate your own business ethics.

Try this exercise: Create a list of situational scenarios and divide them into two columns: how you would respond personally versus how you would respond as a business owner. Evaluate your answers and determine if you are actually as ethical as you thought you were.

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Don’t cut corners

When you’re just starting out, money may be tight. It’s the perfect scenario of temptation. You may consider cutting corners on equipment, on the quality of your product, or even by underpaying staff to make ends meet.

It’s important that you consider the long-term damage you can do to your business and not just the temporary fix you’re seeking. Think about it this way: Producing an inferior product, even for a short period of time, has the potential to damage your reputation in the long run. Or paying contractors and employees less than you would accept for the same job can create a weak team morale resulting in high turnover rates or employee conflicts.

Tip: If you’re not able to pay high wages in the beginning, consider adding value to your employees instead. Invest in your team with employee training programs. Check out this post on livestrong.com for a more information.

Meet your obligations

Being a woman of your word is not just important to your personal character. While you may be able to get around fulfilling your responsibility on certain contracts and avoid legal trouble; you can still do damage to business reputation and industry relationships. If you find yourself in a tough situation and are unable to meet the terms of an agreement, don’t try to get out of it. Instead, communicate your situation to your supplier, partner, employee or customer and try to revise or amend the initial agreement.

The longer you’re a business owner the more aware you’ll be of the fact that all entrepreneurs fall on difficult times every now and then. There’s nothing to be ashamed of. Just be sure that you own up to your end of the bargain. Try to always meet your obligations or get out in front of situations that may not be going as planned.

Tip: If you find yourself in need of additional funding with few resources to tap into, look for alternative sources. Consider applying for a line of credit with PayPal or check out sites like smallbusinessloans.co to explore your options.

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