The Ethics Behind Small Business

Economist Milton Friedman once remarked that as long as a business enterprise operates within the confines of the law, it has no other responsibility except to make money. And while it is certainly true that a business cannot operate for long without turning a profit, Friedman’s dictum strikes many as somewhat overly generalized and devoid of ethics. But do ethics even play a role in the affairs of business”

Corporate enterprises are technically considered as people in the US, with all the rights and obligations extended to citizens as human beings. But certainly most people conduct their lives and relationships with others with something more than a sense of their purely legal obligations on how to navigate each interaction. So the question remains: should businesses feel compelled to do the same”

Getting There from Here

The fact is that most large corporations started out as the quite small fruit of one person’s passionate belief in a product or service. Long before a balance sheet enters such a person’s head, they have consumed themselves with the benefit their idea will bring to other people, and how best to deliver this benefit to the community at large.

Steve Jobs, when once asked to reflect on Apple becoming the most profitable company in the world, said that making money was the last thing on his mind when he started developing electronic devices. He simply wanted to build apparatuses that worked, and looked, better than any others available.Jobs perspective demonstrates that the driving force behind most small businesses doesn’t seem to reflect the view of Milton Friedman and has much more to do with the ethics of serving, rather than simply profiting.

The Key to Success

Webster defines ethics as the moral principles that govern a person’s, or a group’s, behavior. But do ethics in business pay” Business consultant Peter Drucker thinks they do. Drucker points out that most small businesses that view clients as neighbors, as well as customers, tend to survive and prosper, while those that see people simply as markets tend to struggle.

Drucker has identified two key components to small business success: provide something useful, and do no harm. Those are certainly two fundamental elements of being a good neighbor, too. The bottom line to small business success may be as simple as bringing a sense of personal ethics to the enterprise.

It sure worked for Steve Jobs.

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About Jim Jacques

Jim Jacques is the President of United Virtual Office, which provides business owners with virtual office services to help them save money and grow their business. Virtual Offices include a prestigious business address in myriad U.S. cities, Virtual Phone Services, courier services and more. Google +

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