Young: Integrity remains a critical asset for entrepreneurs

When integrity is observed and felt throughout a new or altered venture, it sets the tone for the culture of business…

Do you ever wonder if you have the desirable characteristics to become a successful entrepreneur?

Yes, we know it’s always difficult to start something from virtually nothing,treading in the dark waters of a new business venture where we might not have the complete entrepreneurial skill sets in place.

As an entrepreneur, your personal integrity is critical for getting and keeping the support of investors, employees and customers.

But in a practical sense, what does that really mean?

Most definitions of integrity include something like the quality of being honest and morally upright.

Yet, I’ve found through experience and knowledge that honesty and morality are relative terms, depending on the reference point of either being the receiver or speaker. In business ventures, the only view that really counts is that of the receiver.

Integrity starts at the helm of your venture, and then it can percolate down through the deepest layers to form the heart and soul of your entrepreneurial venture’s culture.

Simply put, if the entrepreneur who runs the company does not have integrity, a startup usually will falter. Only people who don’t have integrity think it’s hard to detect.

A lack of integrity is one of the easiest qualities to detect in people or a company.

It only takes a few actions or choices to go in the wrong direction, but it will be harder to reset if integrity damage is done.

In the business world, study after study has highlighted that one of the most sought after qualities by customers, vendors and human resource recruiters is that of integrity.

As noted business leadership author John Maxwell: “If you have integrity, nothing else matters. If you don’t have integrity, nothing else matters, either.”

So is there a secret scroll of entrepreneurial tips from which to learn to adopt genuine strong characteristics of integrity to serve the success of your venture’s future?

How can any entrepreneur do everything necessary and build a network of loyal customers and followers and a team?

One of the most important factors to achieving all of these objectives is a good, strong and dependable character.

When integrity is observed and felt throughout a new or altered venture, it sets the tone for the culture of business and may well be one of the most essential causes of it ultimate success, as potential customers will recognize and be drawn to that attitude.

Some questions that I found myself deliberating in thinking about today’s column included how can an entrepreneur create a foundation of integrity and how do they maintain it? What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur that leads to a strong foundation of integrity?

What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur that can further the trust of their customers and earn their undying loyalty? What are the characteristics of an entrepreneur that builds a strong reputation for their venture and its future desired success?

Every entrepreneur is individually different, with their own strong and weak points.

But all of the following examples can help to build a strong foundation of integrity that customers, employees and vendors can embrace to trust and thus build a reputation that is bound for success:

• Meet your commitments— as an entrepreneur, when you are late with a commitment to investors, customers and personnel, you lose integrity.  Your view or reason, falls short of mattering

• Be honest to a fault —this term can usually mean to be honest as seen by other people. Some think honesty is only related to what is said, but not telling the truth is dishonest, even in court. If you can’t deliver a product or service due to your company’s mistakes, integrity suggests strongly that you include the real reason in your apology.

• Strong and consistent moral code—the target here is to meet the receiver’s moral code expectation. If your product or service comes out marginal or worse, you will lose that customer and perhaps many more, likely forever.

• Treat everyone with respect—nobody likes to feel disrespected. Respect is difficult to define in the abstract but quick to be recognized. Be courteous and considerate to all our customers.

• Build and maintain trust—trust is a reliance relationship built on character, strength and ability. It may take several good acts to create and one bad one to lose. To build venture trust, you will need to personalize your company.

Remember that people do business with people.

Company brands are often judged by the quality of the people within the organization, including their leaders.

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