Do The Right Thing

The Rewards of Virtue

If tending to your company's moral fiber seems like a lot of work, consider the alternative. Imagine your company dogged by disgruntled clients, hapless decision-making and a poor reputation.

Not your vision of success? It's hard to envision any company being successful under these conditions. And while it's true that virtue offers its own spiritual rewards, the rewards of running an ethical business usually include financial gain as well--if for no other reason than that unscrupulous behavior generally leads to havoc.

That's why business consultant and business owner David Thrope, founder of Boston Knish Inc. in Acton, Massachusetts, believes "codifying one's ethics should be part of the strategic planning of an organization early on." Clarifying your company's standards is a critical step toward entrepreneurial maturity. "A code of ethics gives [you] a structure within which to make decisions," says Thrope. Later, when you have employees, that code will help ensure everyone in your company is on the same wavelength.

"I think about how I'm going to feel when I'm my mother's age--and my grandfather's age," says Wilson. "What will I think of the decisions I've made? If I can't feel [proud], what good is it to have made a lot of money? It's in everyone's long-term interest to appreciate what they're doing, to feel good about what they're accomplishing. Otherwise, what's the point?"

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This article was originally published in the August 1998 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Do The Right Thing.

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