If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters. — Alan K. Simpson
Running a successful business takes proper knowledge in a variety of arenas. However, there is one attribute in particular that can make or break a business – Integrity. Why is integrity so important? Because consumers and clients are smart, perceptive and care about what the businesses they support stand for. A business differentiates themselves by their values. And these values are directly correlated with the industry you are in. But showcasing your values is only one aspect of integrity. Your actions must always reflect your principals, or the will not come across as genuine.
Take the former CEO of B.P., Tony Hayward, for example. In the midst of the horrific oil disaster in the Gulf, Hayward made an infamous remark that ruined his integrity. In response to a comment on the length of time it took to stop the oil leak, Hayward said, “I’d like my life back.” People perceived this comment to be insensitive, due to the fact that thousands of inhabitants of the Gulf are truly feelings the effects of this disaster. Hayward lost his integrity and in turn was pushed to resign, in order for B.P. to try to gain the companies integrity back.
Having integrity is essential in gaining trust with your clients, especially in the service industry. Even as a small business owner, there are things you can do to show that integrity is a key to your business philosophy.
-Recognizing Values: Recognize what your values are in regards to your industry. What do your clients care about, and how does that fit in with your principals? If you are a personal trainer or yoga instructor, you probably value good nutrition. So, you probably don’t want to sell soda in your lobby.
-Market Your Values: Take a look at all your marketing materials (brochures, ads, etc.). Make sure what you say matches up with what you are doing. For instance, if you claim your business has a strong interest in the environment, make sure your brochures are printed on recycled paper.
-Get Involved: Sponsor a little league team, or donate to a local non-profit. Participating in community related activities shows that your business cares about the community it serves. It is also a great way to network.
So, when creating a business strategy, numbers and marketing are important. But always remember that people are emotional beings, and care about your companies integrity.