The Oxford dictionary defines integrity as “the quality of being honest and having strong moral principles”
To adapt this definition to business, organisations need to review their practice motives, employee and customer engagements, documentation processes and procedures as well as financial declarations and accuracy.
Consulting with small businesses becomes efficient when clients are able to provide their working papers at the onset and are honest in their briefing of their account management history.
A general misconception on tax and financial affairs for small businesses is that when companies do not report accurately they do it to evade the law or tax avoidance (which hold serious consequences). This however is not always the case as some small businesses are not fully aware of all measures to take as well as financial and tax planning prior to submission to SARS and the like.
As a small business who may not always have an in-house tax or financial consultant, you will do well to research thoroughly and ask questions if needed before you close off your processes. The precaution behind this definitely outweighs the possible penalties.
Integrity, although focused on honesty and mostly through client interaction, is also very much based on the companies internal operations and employee well being. How well this is accomplished can be assessed by the logistics and supply chain mechanisms of an organisation as well as those stakeholders who are directly impacted.
Testing can be done through metrics like well being, pay grades and value with regards to employees and quality and efficiency with regards to the process and how it all affects the bottom line without manipulation. Long lasting relationships where trust is the corner stone and where success is the common denominator more then likely rests on a platform of moral principle. Thus an all encompassing mission and vision statement with reinforced action, that drives down to bottom line whilst being cognisant of all stakeholders, gives your company a major competitive advantage.
Here are some important points on assessing entrepreneurial integrity:
Concrete moral code
As an entrepreneur your daily assessment is whether your organisation is meeting the receiver’s moral code expectation. If your product, service or process is marginal or worse, you may lose the customer.
People do business with people! Trust is a relationship built on reliance of character, strength, and ability. It usually takes several good acts to build, and one bad act to lose. To build company trust, you need to add “personal touch” to your business.
This is the underlying foundation for organisational integrity. Whether it is commitment to customer service or fair employment practices; employees observe how leadership resolves issues and follows up on promises made both internally and externally. Customers with unresolved service issues may also tarnish the organisations reputation.
Respect is difficult to define in the abstract, but is swiftly recognised by the receiver. Be courteous and considerate to all on cultural differences, positions, races, ages, or any other types of distinctions. Know your customer and ask the right questions.
Decision making about people, customers and internal procedure should rest on a bed of consistent practice where being reasonable and objectivity are the primary theme.