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Advanced Business Ethics -
for Beginners

 Why "Business Ethics" is a Must-Read



In this article you will find all the know-how and tools you need to maximize your ability to be creative and to organize your business properly for ever greater success – both financially and emotionally.

When I was a youngster, I thought the idea of business ethics was a joke (perhaps even an oxymoron like "government ethics") – and that ethics in general was a trivial subject. After all, how many businesses today do you suppose operate in a truly ethical manner? Not too many, I am sure – so I congratulate you on your decision to read up a bit on this most important and under-rated subject of business ethics.

Years later I discovered,to my surprise, that ethics is arguably the most important subject that anyone can learn. I also realized that most people who teach ethics make the subject far more complicated or mysterious than is necessary. Like the game of "Go",one can learn the basics in less than an hour – and then spend the rest of one's life mastering the logical consequences of those basic principles.>

When I asked myself why ethics generally, and business ethics in particular, are so often over-complicated or mystified by their teachers, I soon understood the reasons. Look at who teaches these subjects: religious clerics and college professors. Most religious teachers mystify the subject in order to maintain their power and influence over their parishioners. And most college professors get paid to fill a term with their course work. Why would they teach the course in just one week and then say, "OK. We're done".

 The Big Picture

Contrary to common belief, ethics are not just sets of rules to which businesses are expected to adhere. Consider, for example, the case of Japanese industry. Some years ago I proved that Japan's meteoric ascendance from industrial oblivion to world dominance in industry was the direct result of a sudden unprecedented improvement in the ethics of those controlling the industry.

This came about due to the decision of Japanese industrial leaders to follow the advice of an American, by the name of William Edward Deming. The rest is history. For the proof, just follow the link above, which will open a new window or tab in your browser.

For a brief general explanation of ethics in business and in other important environments, I suggest you follow this link to an article I wrote recently on Ethics, Law, & Government. When you have read it you will have a wholly new understanding of the role of business ethics in the larger scheme of world affairs. Then come back here and I'll explain how you can apply what you have learned in powerful ways that will benefit you personally in your own business dealings.

 What This Means to You

Back already? Great! So now you understand what an ethic really is and that every valid ethic seeks to maximize creativity and its logical equivalents. Hopefully, you also "got it" that creativity is the resource responsible for all happiness and prosperity – without exception.>

So what can you do to make business ethics instrumental in the development and success of your own business? Since the answer to this question depends in part on what kind of business you have, let's consider two distinct examples:

  • A traditional business that requires you to have others working with you, and
  • A solo business that you operate online by yourself.

 Re-Vamping a Traditional Business

In the first instance you should consider how your business group is organized. Is it set up as a hierarchy with you at the top of the pyramid? If so, you should expect, if "successful" for your organization to become ever more bureaucratized as it grows – thereby becoming ever less sensitive to corrective feedback – and ever less creative. Less creativity = less prosperity, so your return on investment will shrink with time until you wonder why you ever built it in the first place.

Not a happy outcome, is it? As an alternative you might want to consider reorganizing your business as an Octologue or as a HoloMat (if you have more than eight people involved with you). Your objective, from a business ethics standpoint, should be to turn your employees into partners. There are many ways to go about this, but if you need my input, you can contact me at your convenience.

A less drastic approach, not involving such a complete organizational overhaul, would be to incorporate into your company's articles of incorporation or bylaws, the set of principles defined in this document, which I call the Bill of Ethics. It was designed specifically for this purpose.

If you make the Bill of Ethics the cornerstone of your company's modus operandi, and implement its principles in every way you can think of, you should be able to avoid becoming bureaucratized and remain creative, while still functioning superficially as a hierarchy.

The trick to succeeding at this will be to improve your business ethics substantially while refraining from taking yourself too seriously. Make it your personal mission to become unnecessary to your company's successful operations. The key to this transformation is to attend carefully to every source of feedback you receive – whether you like hearing it or not – and especially if you don't like hearing it.

Then make course corrections and delegate responsibility to trusted people on your staff – until your sole responsibility is to monitor acceptance of your new business ethic and to review details of your monthly financial statements – from which feedback you should be able to spot incipient problems and suggest corrections.

 For the Solo Online Entrepreneur

Operating alone it is less important that you formalize the business ethic that you have adopted by means of the Bill of Ethics.  But you still should have a written reminder of the principles underlying the demands of long-term success.

Following this business ethics link you will find a concise document that summarizes what you need to keep in mind to stay on track from a business ethics standpoint. I call the document the Titanian Code of Honor. I suggest you print it and post it where you will see it every day. You won't be sorry you did.

 MLM Ethics

Here is one final note on this topic – the case of business ethics for MLM, multilevel marketing, or network marketing. Since this is often misunderstood and since MLM businesses are often reviled for lack of this knowledge, I have written a separate article addressing issues specific to the genre. I hope those of you struggling with these issues will find it helpful. Just follow the link above.

 Summary

So there you have it – everything you need to know to really understand business ethics, whether you are re-vamping a traditional business, starting a new one, or merely operating your own online solo enterprise. I hope it will come as no surprise to you that you now know more about ethics generally and business ethics in particular than at least 99% of the people who should have this understanding.

If you also "get it" that these same ethical principles apply to all human interactions – in whatever setting – at home, in school, at work, in government, and wherever else people interact – then you have my deepest gratitude. You've already made the world a better place for us all.



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Robert Podolsky

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