Ethics for Entrepreneurs

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All the big business collapses over the last few years have exposed the lack of moral code & ethics in a lot of corporations, not to mention very unsatisfactory business models.  It appears that business needs a core of ethics & integrity to thrive and enjoy long term success.  Ethics are not optional because we work & live with other human beans!  TechCrunch recently had a great post by Vivek Wadhwa titled Integrating Ethics Into The Core Of Your Startups: Why And How which raised the issue of integrity & authenticity in business.  He identifies a few issues:

Create a culture of openness and welcome dissent
Lead by example
Learn from immediate peers or distant models
Recognize your own fallibility as a leader, know your limits, and beware of the myth of immortality
Remember that institutional character — like a liquid cupped in your hand — is fragile; easily lost; and hard, if not impossible, to regain
Establish an independent board
I commented as per below:
Pemo Theodore – March 20th, 2010 at 12:23 pm UTC
There is a great post at Mark Suster’ blog Both Sides of the Table on Integrity as a high requirement for entrepreneurs
Ethics, morals & integrity support right livelihood & those who work for ethical business feel good about their dealings in the world. Buddhists call it Good Karma. The law of karma states that every action has a reaction in the world and so never disappears no matter how hidden it appears initially. Business serves us, not the other way around & bottom line you have to be able to sleep at night. Thanks for this post & shining the light on our integrity in business!
I’m proud to say that most early-stage VCs that I know really do care about making money ethically.  So consider integrity on my personal list of attributes required to raise money from a reputable, early-stage VC.  I know that many media outlets would like to portray this in a different way but knowing many of these individuals I believe it is true for most.  When companies start to make huge sums of money it’s always easy for the media to question the integrity of the company.

Professor David Batstone offers ten Principles for entrepreneurial ethics:

Company directors and management will consider their work force valuable team members, not merely hired labor
A company will think of itself as a part of a community, not just a “market”
A company will take every possible care to ensure the quality and safety of the products it brings to the public
A company will treat the environment as a silent “stakeholder,” a party to which it is wholly accountable
A company will strive to diversify the kind of people who lead and manage its affairs
A company will pursue international trade and production based on reciprocal exchanges that respect the same rights accorded its own people
A company will nurture an organizational culture that encourages its employees to give critical feedback on unethical practices, and even “blow the whistle” when their voices are ignored
A company will protect the privacy rights of its suppliers, customers, and employees
A company will deliver what it promises, and promise what it can deliver
A company will not seek to generate any revenue from practices that threaten life

I feel really good about these defined ethics in business and try to live by them every day.  When we view our business from the bigger picture it is obvious that these are really helpful building blocks that guide us through the activity & busyness of day to day work.  To wind up I would just like to highlight a rather unethical company on the net Mahalo run by Jason Calcanis.  Aaron Wall from SEOBook has written a number of posts exposing this company’s habit of scraping content off the net and using it as their search results with no attribution to the original author or website.  He states:

Of course people don’t have to cut corners, lie, cheat, and steal to build a real business. Those are the strategies employed by people trying to sell value where none exists. You can do just fine by dominating a small niche THEN leveraging data to grow. It is not sexy. You probably can’t hype to the media. It might not lead to an 8 or 9 figure payday. But then you won’t have to describe your strategy as “whatever tactics, however evil.”

What base do you stand on in the business world?   Is it solid like the ethical framework mentioned above or a more flexible stand that adjusts each moment responding to immediate opportunities for profit.

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Pemo Theodore

Pemo Theodore is a Media Publisher and a great people connector. She was Founder Silicon Valley TV which served the San Francisco Bay Area for 10 years! She has produced Silicon Valley Events for Investors & Startups for 10 years. Pemo loves to video interview venture capitalists & founders to engage the human behind the success stories.. She has been Executive Producer of FinTech Silicon Valley for 6 years, organizing twice monthly FinTech talks & panels in San Francisco & Palo Alto and audio podcasts. She believes in learning through a great discussion with experts in the domains. Pemo has a talent to bring the right people together and is an incredible networker. Pemo's events have been seen as supporting Venture Capitalists & Angels in sourcing great deal flow from startups who attend her events. Many founders have received funding through meeting investors at her events. Her favored medium is audio & visual media and she has built up a great body of work of videos of panels & interviews and podcasts in Silicon Valley startup ecosystem. She has lived & worked in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Ireland, London, Northern Ireland & Silicon Valley. Bio

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Written by Pemo Theodore