Can Ethics Mend What Ails Our Business? One of my first clients calls me periodically to ask questions, and get my advice for free, sometimes keeping me on the phone for hours. She recently purchased a new laptop computer, and was having problems with Outlook and getting her contact list restored to the new system from her backup copies. She made a series of appointments for me to come out and help her make the transition. I say "series" because she would make the appointment, and then the night before call to say that she thought she'd figured out the problem, or finally got some help from the company she purchased the new laptop from, one of my first suggestions. I started asking about the software and hardware she had purchased, and in making comparisons to the old system we happened to create the problem. What we found was that she had some pirated software on the old system. Now she didn't consider it pirated software, I mean, her husband had been working for the company she'd purchased the old laptop from, and the software came with her system. She's pretty sure she paid for it. If it came with the system, they should have provided her with the actual software CD's, or the key code. If they failed to do so, she should go back to them to secure a "certified" copy and/or the key code. It took some time, but she did finally admit that perhaps she didn't pay for it. I proceeded to suggest a few of my favorite software "deal" sites so she could purchase the software she needed to be able to transfer her contacts back into the new laptop. When she started considering asking her husband to get her a copy of the software...I proceeded to tell her that I considered her to be a good ethical business owner, and hoped that she would reconsider doing anything that could jeopardize her credibility with her clients. How would she feel about the ethics of a company that "stole" someone's product? I must admit I don't get through to everyone, but on this particular occasion, I had struck the right cord. She called me back the following week to tell me that she'd upgraded her entire Microsoft package to the latest version, and felt really good about it. She also told me that she felt really bad about having taken up so much of my time and canceling so many appointments. Incredible! I felt like buying a new leather belt just so I could cut a notch in it. Not only did I reap the rewards of having helped someone move in a more ethical direction, but two days later I received a check from her for $100, with a wonderful thank you card. She said that she really felt good about herself and the direction of her business. Needless to say, I felt pretty good, too. What we both were experiencing was the POWER of ethical business practices. When you take the time to consider the impact of what you do, you come away not only with the pride in knowing that you did the right thing, but you give your self-esteem a boost as well. Ethics can be a powerful elixir in attaining your business goals. Use it liberally and watch your business GROW! Wishing you continued success and the wisdom to consider ethical options.