Business Ethics – Small Business Wins

You know… Small business has a nice advantage as compared to the big mega-conglomerate businesses. The small business can stay true to it’s original purpose.

Recently I’ve been watching the big guys: Apple and Volkswagen, just to name two for example, stumbling in various ways. Today the FBI is arresting managers at VW for their deliberate fraud in disabling the emission systems on their diesel engine models for better performance. As regards Apple the harm isn’t that severe, but they’ve wandered from the idea of providing simple solutions. It isn’t easy anymore to use the products they sell. The more complex they make the products, the harder it is to use routinely. Maybe I’ll write something more complete about that another time. The point is that they can’t stop. They have to produce a new something to cause the market to swoon and buy. Success at any cost.

So I have become disillusioned with regard to some of my favorite companies. They just haven’t been able to maintain their personalities as they’ve grown to oversized proportions.

Some of the problem is their need to appease stockholders. Some is because they sell worldwide and have to deal with governments throughout the world. They are required to compromise their values to appease many authorities. But I think that the main issue is the need for growth combined with outsized profit expectations.

In my mind profit is the main goal, but not at any cost, and growth is nice if possible. But, we, who want to be honest, don’t deliberately deceive our customers for example. We don’t deliberately destroy the environment. We don’t use sweatshop labor. Small business people are able to maintain principles – if they want to – whereas it seems to me that those colossus businesses, and the people who are running them, are unable to stay above the demands for more, more, more – principles be damned.

So when we are thinking about the disadvantages of being small; being who we are, let’s remember that we have important advantages that those poor souls doesn’t. Money and profit aren’t everything. Living life with dignity and having principles and values that we maintain are very useful in our happiness and sense of who we are, and what life means to us.

Having said all that, I know that small business is just as susceptible to the dark side of things. It’s just that we have a choice by comparison, and usually we are able to make that decision to maintain who we want to be. It might mean more work, more time, but it’s our choice.


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