Raising the Dead

5. Focus on Ethics and Quality

Ethics, schmethics, you say? Don't blow it off quite so fast. With consumers more concerned than ever about the companies they do business with, following the rules is crucial if you want to succeed. Need proof? Check out Do the Right Thing.

It's also important to respect the intelligence of customers and employees. There are simply too many choices available to customers these days to think you can get away with subpar products and performance. Few things are as crucial to a business as a good reputation, and, like customers, a good reputation has to be earned. A good rule of thumb is to always think long-term. Short-term solutions, by their very nature, are destined to cause trouble in the future.

Last year's Firestone tire debacle provides a rousing example. If quality and ethics had played an active role in operations, that business's problems, as well as the name-calling and finger-pointing that accompanied them, would probably never have arisen. When making decisions, the moral of the story is:

  • Understand and accept the real reasons behind what's being done.
  • Be aware of the outcome of any action or behavior.
  • Show accountability.
  • Comprehend the whole picture internally (among employees) and externally (among the community and the environment).
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This article was originally published in the February 2001 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Raising the Dead.

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