“You have to first understand the underlying idea that to be transparent, everything about the way you do business has to be on the up-and-up.”
There is a lot to be said for showing your face in business. Many have a taciturn attitude towards customers—understandably so because confidentiality is a necessary measure—but it can be misconstrued as an attempt to deceive or mislead. Chances are, you have no intention of deceiving anyone; even so, you have to be conscious of the public’s perception of your business. That is the purpose of this article: A reminder of how important it is for a business to be honest about how and what it does.
Let’s Be Honest
Getting down to brass tacks: You have to first understand the underlying idea that to be transparent, everything about the way you do business has to be on the up-and-up. None of this applies to you if you are not running an honest business. If you, as a business owner, are not proud of how you operate or where your product comes from, then transparency is not really an option. Being ethical is more than a college course, and if you can find a way to combine quality and efficiency with genuine investment in the needs of your customer, then people will most certainly respond to it. There is no reason (unless you have something to hide) why a business cannot provide comprehensive details to customers, clients, and the greater public—and they will love you for it.
What Would you Expect?
Everyone has certain expectations when they are looking for someone who sells what they are looking for. Put yourself in the shoes of the person who is visiting your website for the first time, or walking into your store and deciding what they think about what they see, or can’t see. If you were your customer, would you be impressed? Would you need more information? Time and time again, one of the best ways to optimize your business is to learn, intimately, how it is to be your own customer. You can use this perspective to understand what your customer’s experience feels like, and whether you are transparent enough.
Valuable Lessons from the Restaurant Business
A restaurant is one of the quintessential models for business. Its customers are unforgiving, competition is fierce, and there is no hiding behind marketing tactics—the food is either good, or it’s not. They do not even try to hide anything because they understand this, which is why you see things like detailed descriptions of the ingredients in each dish, or an open viewing window into the kitchen. Metaphorically speaking, you should also have an open viewing window for everyone to see how you make what you make, no matter what industry you work in.
Build Trust with Your Customers and the Greater Public
In the spirit of establishing trust with your customer, why not reveal exactly how your product is made, how your service was developed, and where it comes from? Just as the trend in contemporary restaurants is to provide for customers a detailed description of where meat and produce is farmed—and even how the animals were treated before they landed on your plate—you can inspire trust by disclosing this kind of background.
Show the World that You Are Not Afraid
The idea is full disclosure—whether that means showing in public record where profits are going, or simply giving customers the full cost of what they are buying (that is, avoiding hidden cost). This practice not only applies to your customers, but also to general public relations. When you convey an undisguised image to the greater public, at large, you tell the world that you have nothing to hide.
Be Proud of Success
If you have had success, then do not be ashamed of it. You may think that boldly publicizing your profit will come off as too cocky or irreverent, but the contrary is usually true. Success and legitimacy in a company instills confidence in buyers and the public. Would you be more likely to put your trust in a business that is perpetually falling short and never quite getting ahead, or one that has consistently, increasingly become more profitable? Running a business is not a private endeavor; it is in the public domain. So if you are doing good business, then you should not hesitate to make it known. Do good work, and be proud of it.
If you’re still not a believer, here are a few reasons why ethics is so important:
Build an Ethical Business: Cheating Isn’t Worth the Effort
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