Is Integrity in Entrepreneurship only for those who do not know how to do business?

Integrity. An integral part of Sustainable Entrepreneurship. Easy to say. Slightly more tricky to live out. In fact, I do have my doubts about people who are way too quick to proclaim they are in line for the Integrity of the Month Award. If you look at the diverse range of definitions on the internet, the conundrum becomes even more complicated.

What is integrity in entrepreneurship?

I found this definition on Diligent.com: “Integrity in business enhances your reputation — which can help attract and retain customers, engender employee loyalty, and become a more attractive investment proposition. Business integrity is strongly correlated with financial performance.”

I don’t know about you, but this makes me feel slightly sick. My immediate thoughts go to characters like Gavin Watson and Markus Jooste, or closer to home some high and holy church characters. And no, it is definitely very cringy thoughts. In my opinion, integrity should never be about enhancing your business. It should be about doing the right thing, because deep down inside, you want to do what is the right thing to do.

Oprah Winfrey once said: “Integrity is doing the right thing, knowing that nobody’s going to know whether you did it or not.” Ralph Waldo Emerson’s definition can also be added: “Nothing is at last sacred but the integrity of your own mind.”

Is Integrity alive and well in corporate life?

One could become highly technical about the subject of Integrity. In the world of corporate life, the term ESG or Environmental, Social & Governance, seems to be a hot topic. In fact, you probably have zero chance of receiving highly lucrative contracts, if your Annual Report and Vision Statements do not include ESG’s in them. It almost sounds like a drug for doing business, which brings me back to the point that integrity should never be about improving your business rankings or bottom line. And yes, the Gavins and Markus’ and all the high & holy’s of the world seem to pop back into my mind. One could even ponder over the question of whether there is anyone with real solid integrity roaming the corridors of corporate. But then again, I am biased toward entrepreneurs.

Why worry about Integrity?

Life is much longer than you think. Whatever you have not done with the best intentions, has a way of catching up on you. And yes, we all have different value sets. Whatever I might think is the right thing to do, might be completely different from what you believe is the right thing to do. And the old adage about you becoming who you mix with is so incredibly true in this regard. If you find yourself with the billionaires-in-training club who all drive top-of-the-range cars and live in Private Estates, chances are slightly higher that you are going to try and cut corners wherever you can to get to or stay inside the elusive billionaires club. That is just how the cookie crumbles. Life is not so short my friend. It will catch up with you at some point or another.

A Sustainable Entrepreneurship Legacy to Live By

As a parent of three young adults, I do feel responsible for setting an example for my children. They are after all my number one priority. Whatever I do in business makes an impact on them and their future. I do want them to be proud of their mother wherever they go. That is after all the best gift that I could have received from my late father. I did not receive the latest and the greatest overseas holidays or Barbie Dolls and definitely not a brand new car, but a legacy where people remember the difference that he has made in their lives. I would be pretty chuffed if I could do the same.

Unfortunately, there are way too many entrepreneurs who seem to thrive on the here today and gone tomorrow, but that’s OK attitude. An attitude where the only way they feel successful is by splashing on new cars, bicycles, overseas holidays, and the latest and greatest eateries. All on Facebook and Instagram of course. And this is while they are involved in their umpteenth business venture. What message does this send to their children?

Bill Gates: Sustainable Entrepreneur?

People have their own opinions on Bill Gates, but I do believe that he has built a legacy that his children can be proud of. A while back, someone asked him if he would allow his daughter to marry a poor man. His reply definitely did result in a chuckle or two, but the message was mostly centered around the fact that integrity is more important than money. He also added: “One day, the guard of a bank found a bag full of money, he took the bag and went to give it to the bank manager.

People called this man an idiot, but in reality, this man was just a rich man who had no money.

One year later, the bank offered him a job as a receptionist, 3 years later he was a customer manager and 10 years later he manages the regional management of this bank, he manages hundreds of employees and his annual bonus exceeds the amount he could have stolen.

Wealth is first of all a state of mind my friend.”

Nobody’s Perfect

When it comes to sustainable entrepreneurship and specifically integrity, it is important to note that nobody is perfect. It is way too easy to make a slip-up. To be lured in by the world’s idea of success and fame and all the highly unsustainable acts. It is almost never too late to go back and fix up where you have slipped up. To make amends. My son uses a saying that I love: “Just make sure you only make fresh mistakes.” There is no point in repeating your mistakes.

Do you align with Integrity in Entrepreneurship?

One of the major aims of addVENTURES Business Club is to provide a communication platform for our entrepreneurs who align with the ethos of sustainable entrepreneurship. Entrepreneurs who believe in the values of integrity, objectivity, curiosity, and sustainability. Nothing high & holy and earthly no-good. Just down-to-earth people who work towards changing business for good together.

If this is something that you can align with, we urge you to join our family of entrepreneurs. Together, we can make a difference.

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