Work Ethic

A Strong Work Ethic Distilled to Its 5 Essential Qualities

Hard work is necessary but not sufficient: Emphasize instead the 'ethic' part, if you want to elevate yourself and your brand to the highest level.
A Strong Work Ethic Distilled to Its 5 Essential Qualities
Image credit: FS Productions | Getty Images
Guest Writer
Freelance Business & Entrepreneurship Writer at Cademica.com
6 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

The path to producing more, attracting massive numbers of customers, selling more and dominating your industry starts with cultivating a strong work ethic.

Your work ethic is the moral principles that guide you in your job, business and career. A strong work ethic motivates you and your team to do the things that matter. Think of it as a light in the darkness.

As an entrepreneur, you need a light that illuminates your world, clears your way and guides you on the path to your destination. Work ethic is your light. It doesn’t just illuminate your thoughts; it also pushes you to stay focused on your cause and energizes you to be at your best.

Here are the top five components of an excellent work ethic that will elevate your brand and accelerate your success.

1. Honesty.

Picture this: A new mobile phone company just launched a product. Through smart social media marketing, you landed at their storefront and spent about an hour navigating their landing page and reading their product reviews. It seemed like everything was good, so you finally clicked to place an order.

However, after you bought the smartphone, you came to realize some strange things. It’s a bogus product. The phone’s internal memory is just one Gigabyte—not four as the company advertised, the battery doesn’t last and you can hardly make a call because the phone freezes up all the time. Understandably, you feel that the company has ripped you off.

Would you buy from that brand again? I’m certain your answer would be a big no. Why? The company is not honest.

Honesty is a strong work ethic that every founder, CEO and marketer should weave into his company culture. As it happens, being truthful is not just important for your sales. It’s also essential for converting your one-time buyer into a loyal customer.

You have to be humble to develop this core work ethic.

Related: The Importance Of Honesty And Integrity In Business

2. Humility.

From humble beginnings, a small digital startup will launch, selling its products to customers with passion and excellent customer service. But after it expands, grows bigger and scales into a large, profitable company, its customers begin to feel ignored. The company becomes less accessible to them because it’s now too big.

That is a recipe for failure. If you want to succeed, you have to be humble. No matter how expansive your customer base becomes, if you don’t come down to earth to respect them, serve them with consistent value, remain accessible to them, listen to their queries, invent for them, then you will lose them. 

3. Hard work.

I’m a firm believer in hard work. When I started out as a freelancer, I’d show up to write on my blog for a day or two, and then I’d suffer from writer’s block for the rest of the week.

Prospecting for clients, guest posting, and social media marketing were not even part of my agenda. I’d just pen a few words when I felt like it and enjoy the rest of my week with my pals on the beach. The result?

Zero traffic and zero income. Then I read somewhere that Andre Agassi, the tennis champion, had a strong work ethic. He would hit 500 balls every day. That was what elevated his career, making him “the biggest worldwide star in the sport’s history,” according to BBC. That changed my work life forever.

I began to work ten hours a day, writing and prospecting for clients like crazy. And that really paid off. Not only did I start building my brand identity, but I also saw a spike in my income. I started making $1000 plus per month, courtesy of hard work.

4. Respect.

Most startups don’t value their customers. By respect, I don’t mean bowing to or saluting your customer.

Related: 7 Trust-Building Tips To Use In Your Business 

You respect your customer when you sell them a product that exceeds their expectations, when you listen to their feedback, when you apologize for your misdeeds. While these might seem unimportant, your customers actually feels valued when you do these things.

Companies with a strong work ethic like Amazon and Starbucks understand that. That’s why “customer obsession,” for example, is at the core of Amazon’s company culture. At Amazon, said Jeff Bezos, in an interview with Charlie Rose, “we’re not competitor obsessed; we’re customer obsessed. We start with the customer, and we work backward.”

Not only is the company working hard to always provide its million customers with quality products at affordable prices, but it also works hard to deliver the products on time.

Do you want to elevate your brand beyond your imagination? Put your customer first.

5. Responsibility.

No matter how big your company is, if you do not to take responsibility for your actions, you will fail.

Take Uber, for example. While the company has grown massively, reaching as high as $70 billion in value, the ride-hailing service has suffered setbacks in its revenue, credibility and public image because its leaders failed to honor their responsibilities.

The company leaders were at war with politicians and government regulations in Taiwan, had combative relations with London transport authorities, failed to abide by regulations in Japan, took less strict measures in curbing incessant sexual assaults committed by its drivers, and the list goes on.

Related: Uber Needs to Recreate its Company Culture. Here's What You Can Learn From Its Mistakes.

These serious problems caused many setbacks for the company and forced its founder, Travis Kalanick, to resign. To help the company bounce back, its new CEO, Dara Khosrowshahi, drafted what he called Uber’s new “cultural norms,” a new work ethic that the company must undertake moving forward.

Among the cultural norms is this powerful clause: “We do the right thing. Period.” And that’s what work ethic is all about: Doing the right thing. No more, no less.

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Is Your Work Ethic Better than Average? Find Out in 5 Questions.