Successful businesses are built on the foundation of integrity. Integrity is not just a moral principle; it’s about being whole and complete.
This requires maintaining a tight relationship to our word. “When we are ‘in integrity,’ we speak from a place of wholeness,” says Cat Thompson. “Our words match our actions. As Dr. Seuss put it, ‘we say what we mean and we mean what we say.’ When we break from this pattern and say things we don’t really mean, we move ‘out of integrity.’”
For example, unmet promises — direct or implied — are incompletions that move us out of integrity. When promises are met, integrity is present, and customers notice that.
Your Integrity Determines your Success
The connection between integrity and success is outlined in Brian Tracy’s article titled The Importance Of Honesty And Integrity In Business. Tracy identifies integrity as the cornerstone of leadership.
The takeaway is that leaders have the unique ability to maintain integrity even in the toughest situations. Here’s how you can remain in integrity while facing some of the most common, yet tough, situations.
Integrity in Business Examples
1. Your Payroll Checks are Going to Bounce
It seems unthinkable that one day you might not have enough funds to cover payroll, but it happens more often than you think. If it happens to your business, the first thing you should do is communicate to everyone on your payroll.
It’s embarrassing and awkward, but communication will keep you in integrity with everyone. Not communicating will leave people high and dry.
Employees are depending on you to pay them on time, and when you don’t, it’s a letdown. That is followed by resentment if they learn you had advance warning and didn’t tell them.
When you let people know you don’t have enough to cover payroll, they’re automatically going to be upset at first. But they’ll be grateful you told them, because they’ll have a chance to pursue other options for bills they have to pay on time.
When you don’t have the ability to make payroll, communicating tells your people tells them you have integrity.
2. You can’t Pay your Taxes
Being a business in good standing requires meeting a series of vital deadlines, including filing your tax return. Unless it’s your profession, taxes are one of the most complicated tasks of doing business, but you mustn’t brush them off.
If you know you won’t be able to pay your taxes, or you’re unsure, the worst thing you can do is avoid filing. If you don’t file at all, you could be hit with penalties that add up and put you swiftly deeper into debt.
According to four personal finance experts, RISE explains there are two penalties for being late: one for filing late, and one for paying late. According to RISE, “the penalty for late filing can be as much as 5% of the unpaid tax amount each month, up to a maximum of 25%.” The penalty for paying late is 5% of the unpaid tax amount per month.
Using those numbers, if you owe $10,000 and file late, you could be charged as much as $500 per month (up to $2,500) until you file. You’ll also be charged the same rate for paying late.
Even when you can’t pay all your taxes, filing on time keeps you in integrity with the IRS as well as yourself.
3. You can’t Continue Giving Deals to Customers
People expect good deals to last forever, but sometimes that becomes impractical. If you can no longer continue to offer deals to people, you need to let them know as soon as possible.
When this situation arises, be prepared to face angry and disappointed customers with integrity. Don’t try to excuse your decision or persuade them you had no other choice. That will put them on the defensive.
Instead, make each conversation about the customer. Apologize and ask him or her if there’s anything you can do (within reason), and then do it. If the request is unreasonable, refuse it gracefully.
Communication Restores Integrity
Even when you can’t change your circumstances, you can always communicate. Choose communication over silence to maintain integrity with yourself and your world.
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The key is to choose integrity. It will establish you as a business owner with character and you’ll have more open doors after that.