With the age of CEOs going south by the day, start-ups are increasingly coming into focus for their professional conduct or lack of it.
Suddenly a 26 or a 28-year-old finds himself, sometimes even without a year of work experience, founding a company. He is not only an ideator, but also has to write a business plan, look for a co-founder, invest in a team, and pitch to investors. The journey beyond funding is more rigorous, with scaling up becoming a major challenge.
Within all this, it is easy to get overwhelmed and lose track of business ethics and professionalism if you are focusing only on wins and losses, hits and misses.
What an entrepreneur has to realize is that despite the fact he is working for himself and does not have anyone to answer to, he cannot abdicate responsible behavior.
Ethics of professionalism were not made in a vacuum. They have stood the test of time.
You still have to care for your employees, paying their salaries on time, giving them leave according to the law of the land. Do not crib if someone has taken a leave at a dire juncture. Deal with it empathetically in a performance evaluation. Hiring and firing at will is an American concept, not Indian, and can cost you future recruitment qualitatively.
If your star employees get poached by competitors, start by treating them well, forge an emotional connect, and keep your checks and balances in place. Do not fly off the handle and start badmouthing anyone. It shows bad taste and reflects on how immature one is. Your team members respect you not because you pay them, but because they look up to you. Be worthy of that.
Restraint dignifies and distinguishes you, always.
If you have made a commitment to a vendor or an agency, whether verbal or written, honor it. Do not go back on your word just because you found another one for 3k less or your co-founder’s pal started an agency you want to try out. Not stepping up to your commitment is dishonorable conduct.
Keeping one’s word is still considered being a gentleman and a lady, and it never goes out of fashion. In fact, you risk losing out on much goodwill in the market because you come across as a disreputable businessperson.
Your ecosystem abounds with vendors and agencies who spend considerable time in researching and presenting you with their ideas and strategies. Respect their time and effort. To not acknowledge their proposals and revert, either positively or negatively, is a prime example of unprofessional work ethic.
Good behaviour has never been at a greater premium in India Inc.
When you commit to a project, adhere to your deadlines or keep the client posted otherwise. Never offer lame excuses.
Always pay your vendors fully and on time. Ensure you have enough balance to not give out cheques that bounce. It is an important way to ensure your credit rating and credibility in the market. Today’s ecosystem is very connected. If you misbehave, do not think that it will not reach your client’s ears.
Wisdom is a severely undervalued currency. It does not come only with age and experience. You can be wise whatever age you are if you understand that everyone deserves respect, not only the ones whom you depend on, but also the ones who depend on you.
Be polite and kind. Be patient above all. Treat as you would like to be treated, with respect and appreciation.
Understand that life can be sometimes unfair, but that gives you no right to treat others unfairly.
Moreover, when in doubt always remember ‘what you sow so shall you reap’ is not just an adage, but a powerful karmic law.
~ Anju T Makin