As a business owner, you will occasionally be confronted with an ethical dilemma. You will then be faced with the questions…

Should I or Shouldn’t I?

You will face the temptation to do something that could be ethically wrong, and the decision you make could have negative consequences, even if you think there are benefits in doing something that is ethically unsound.

So, our advice today is: Don’t fall prey to them. You need to stay on the right side of temptation, no matter how attractive the alternative is.

Such ethical dilemmas might include the following…

Hiding income from the tax man. Taxes are a headache for any business owner, so there might be the occasional temptation to lighten the financial burden, such as altering your accounts to hide some of your income sources. Not only is this morally wrong, but it could have real-world consequences if the taxman finds out. You might then have to pay a fine because of your wrongdoing, and the overall cost will much higher than what your expected tax bill was intended to be. So, our advice is this: BE HONEST!!!

Using family savings to fund business needs. When you need money fast, there are legal ways to inject cash into your business. What you should never do is use your home finances, as that may have consequences for your personal life, especially if you have a family to support. What would your partner say? How would your children feel? It’s no good taking the money assuming you will be able to replenish the pot later, because what if something goes wrong and you can’t? So, our advice is this: Talk to your partner if you intend to use money from your savings, but wherever possible, find other means to fund your business.

Committing fraud. Misusing company assets. Stealing somebody’s intellectual property. Making false insurance claims. You may be tempted to commit all kinds of fraud for any number of reasons, but you do so at a cost. If found out, you will have to hire a criminal defense lawyer, pay court costs, and face a prison sentence. Ask yourself when tempted: Is it worth it? The answer should be no, as not only will you face prison time, but your business reputation will quickly dwindle once the media highlights your wrongdoing to the public. So, our advice is this: Don’t be a criminal!

Writing a fake review. As a business owner, you will understand the importance of online reviews. With websites such as Yelp, your customers have the ability to share their opinion of your business, be their opinions good or bad. Your priority is to provide good customer service to secure positive word about your business. What you shouldn’t be doing is writing fake reviews yourself (or hiring others to do it for you), as not only is it dishonest, but other people are not stupid! They are unlikely to fall for your deception, so despite the temptation to write something to attract positive attention, don’t, as you only receive negative attention when the public realise your dishonesty. So, our advice is this: Run your business well so you will naturally get good reviews from your customers.

So, if you’re faced with any kind of ethical dilemma today, be that something mentioned here or otherwise, remember the consequences. If in doubt, always opt for the side of good instead of the dishonest alternative. Your business and your reputation depend on it!

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