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"Do the Right Thing!" Integrity is the Linchpin of All Entrepreneurial Success.

Entrepreneur advice

"Do the right thing." "You are only as good as your word." Two phrases my Dad lived by and drove home to me at a young age, and have been thematic in my business life because they define integrity.
"You are only as good as your word."
For entrepreneurs, they are equally critical. When you're starting out most of you will only have an excellent idea, a rational plan to execute that idea and your integrity. Your idea might or might not be great. Your plan may or may not be executable.

But your integrity, in everything you do, from what you say, promise or how you act, should never waver. It is who you are and therefore how you and your business are thought of and the very linchpin of your future success.

Integrity isn't just a matter of behavior. It's way more. Commitment to honesty and fairness with everyone with whom you and your business come into contact. Employees, customers, suppliers, investors. It should be part of the way you do business. It's doing the right thing even when it hurts you, either professionally or financially, or both.

Like honoring a contract with a supplier or a promise made to an employee that forces you to delay delivery or costs you way more money than you ever envisioned.

Do you conduct your business with integrity? Are you doing the right thing? Is your word your bond?

Here's some entrepreneur advice to ensure that you stay on the path by doing 5 things:

"Walk the talk."

Don't say one thing and then do another. Be what you say you are. Said positively - be one-faced!  And above all else, stand for something!  As marketing guru Seth Godin said in one of his great blog posts "...Standing for something helps you build trust, makes it easier to manage expectations."  It doesn't have to be hard, or nuanced. Just consistent.

"Like honoring a promise made...[that] costs you way more money than you ever envisioned."

Don't ever "back trade" a deal.

When you "shake" on a deal, whether it's with a customer for delivery, a supplier for an order or an employee for a bonus, that should be it. No second thoughts, no reconsiderations. Maybe you want not to shake so quickly, however. Before you agree is when you disagree. Iron out the details before you ever "have a deal."

But once you do, even after it's "papered" (see the next piece of advice), never, ever have second thoughts or "back trade" business terms of the agreement. For one, even if you end up with the deal, the other side will never trust you again. Second, your reputation with that constituency will never be same.

Don't hide behind your lawyer or legalese.

Do you negotiate with someone whose defense of some onerous terms in their agreement was that their lawyer insisted on them?  Nonsense. An attorney, no matter the situation, is simply an advisor. Advice is taken or ignored! Don't hide behind your lawyer or their legalese. Don't use them as an excuse to make a deal more one-sided or to take advantage of a situation.

Now, I'm not saying you can't be tough, just don't obfuscate (hey we're talking about lawyers, I couldn't help it). If these are the terms you want, and they're realistic, stick to your guns, but be honest and own up to their author.

An apology is always better than a denial.

Integrity doesn't mean you won't make a mistake. Maybe even in desperation or the heat the moment, not tell the whole truth. Hey, we're all human. If and when it happens, integrity moves you to a quick and complete apology. Lack of integrity takes down the denial path. Mistakes and lies happen. The choice is yours as to what you do when you screw up.

Trust your gut entrepreneur advice

Expect reciprocation and listen to your "gut."

What this means is to try to do business with like-minded individuals. Other people with integrity. It's so much easier to do business that way. Trust is the foundation of an excellent business relationship.

If you can't trust the person across the table, it's hard to create and build that relationship, whether that person is an employee, a customer, a supplier or even an investor.

And follow that little voice inside we euphemistically call our "gut," to help you determine that trust. It's your bs meter, your moral compass, pick your metaphor. Try not to do business with people that just don't "feel right."

Integrity is the linchpin of entrepreneurial success because it defines who you are, what you stand for - your reputation. People won't do business with you if your reputation says they shouldn't trust you.

"The Entrepreneur's Yoda" knows these things. He's been there. May success be with you!

How much do you believe integrity is critical to success?  Please share your thoughts in your comments. It can help another entrepreneur.

If you like this post, by all means, share it with your networks and colleagues.

"There is a voice" photo found on the Red Fairy Project.

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