The Ethical Entrepreneur: Top Tips for Starting an Ethical Business
Do you want your business to be as ethical as it is profitable? You’re not alone.
In recent years there’s been a real rise in the number of ethical entrepreneurs who want their business to be driven not just by profits but by ethical business practises and goals – by doing the right thing for people and the planet. And, just as ethics are becoming more central to many business leaders’ thinking, they’re also becoming increasingly important to consumer purchasing habits.
Companies that focus on sustainability, social responsibility and ethical business practices also claim they make more return than those who don’t. We spoke to five business experts who have been shortlisted in this year’s, The Business Book Awards, to find out their top tips on how to start an ethical business in 2019.
1. Consider the 3 ‘p’s’
- “Be people focused
- Have a purposeful vision
- Leave a positive legacy
These points are so important in the wake of the destruction we face, in the pursuit of commercial gain. Yes, business has commercial drivers. However, we need to balance the pursuit of profit with that of being people focused, through having a strong purpose beyond making money. Purpose gives your business a reason to exist. A reason for your people to believe in you. Life is precious – an ethical leader makes life better and that in turn makes the world a better place.”
Nikki Gatenby is author of Superengaged
2. Implement planet saving polices
As a nation we are becoming more conscious and concerned for the planet so things such as organic, plastic free and sustainability are all areas to not only consider, but to implement.
Can you give back from the off? Each year Pukka gives 1% of its turnover to environmental charities, audited through a scheme called 1% For The Planet. If every company in the FTSE 100 did the same, it would generate billions of £s.”
Claire Brumby is author of The Winning Mix
3. Extend an ethical approach across all your channels and chains.
“You should work towards having a company culture that lives and breathes social responsibility. Customers aren’t stupid: just because you tell them that their coffee is fair-trade doesn’t mean that there won’t be any investigation into what that means. It’s all very well having recyclable cutlery, but who made it? Don’t cut corners in providing what matters for your consumers. Your market has choice, and it’s far easier to fix a problem and make it into a positive experience for the consumer than to try and bury it. Care about your customer’s concerns.”
4. Find out your personal values, and ensure they and your business, are aligned.
“When starting an ethical business, it’s not enough to want to make a difference, because starting a business is tough, and maintaining it even tougher.
Even with an amazing idea on how to help society or the planet, and funding behind you, you need to know you can sustain it, and your personal values hold the key.
Personal values are the deep drivers of human motivation – so strong and deep-rooted that they will influence what we will and won’t do, and whether we will stay in a business long enough to make a difference.”
Karen J. Hewitt, MBA is author of Employee Confidence – the new rules of Engagement
5. Make a clear ethical framework and share it upfront
“Being ethical in business can be challenging given the exigencies of the marketplace, the transparency afforded by the Internet and the fact that, in many cases, the laws have yet to catch up with the technologies. To start an ethical business, it’s essential to make a clear ethical framework and to share it upfront with four key stakeholders: your employees, partners, investors and potential customers. Here are four important tips:
- Link your ethical framework to your mission and strategy.
- Don’t seek perfection.
- Hire for attitude (and demonstrable values).
- Define together what business opportunities you will not accept according to your ethical principles.”
Minter Dial is author of Heartificial Empathy
6. Don’t compromise on your values and purpose
“The key is to align all of your people systems and processes around your values and purpose. Your company purpose is the difference you are making in the world. Get clear on the real reason you are in business.
The values define the rules and boundaries of the business. They make up the company culture and its personality. Our core values remain fixed. If something in the business is not working, it’s the business strategy that changes.
Values help improve morale and can make employees feel proud of the company.”
The Business Book Awards winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on 26 March in London. For more details or to book your place click here.