Now, today I’m going to blog about responsibility. I know just a casual consideration of this first statement I have made, might make you start asking what the hell I’m up to today. Never mind pal; we will soon be flowing before you know it. Responsibility is simply being accountable for your thinking, decisions, actions etc., to yourself, people around you and the entire society as many personal decisions we make on a day to day basis affect people way beyond ourselves. It also means accepting and identifying with the outcomes or results of your decisions and actions. Just as individuals should be responsible, entrepreneurs should too!
And talking about responsibility, I mean entrepreneurship responsibility – for the purpose of this blog. I’m referring to responsible entrepreneurship. Responsible entrepreneurship has been defined as that kind of entrepreneurship that enhance its positive contribution to society whilst minimizing negative impacts on people and the environment; treating customers and competitors honestly; caring about the well-being of employees and consumers; acting as good citizens in the local community and preserving natural resources and the environment.
I know that the majority of entrepreneurs globally are responsible. Yes – I mentioned the majority. I simply can’t stand for some ‘entrepreneurs’ who just screw things up and create very bad impressions about the rest. Anyway, leaving that aside for now, what are some of the top or key considerations we must take into account to assess responsible entrepreneurship? How can an entrepreneur check himself if he or she fits the bill? What measures can society or humanity use to determine responsible entrepreneurship? In my opinion, the following are issues that cannot be ignored. Just read on.
- Motives and mission. Entrepreneur, what are your motives and mission? Don’t tell me you want to make money. Come on! That is very obvious and it’s a no brainer. I mean, beyond money what is it that you have on offer? Money is simply a means and not an end it itself. Don’t you think that adding value to humanity, transforming the world, addressing the rampant poverty across the globe is more important news than just making money? Aren’t some of these achievements more valuable than money? Don’t wake up with some crafty motive and present yourself as an entrepreneur. You know yourself better, but I leave this to you. Get your motive right! Period.
- Attitude. This can be defined as a settled way of thinking or feeling about issues, things, people, situations etc. There is a saying that attitude determines your altitude. I candidly think you need a positive and right attitude if you desire to have great impact on humanity with your business, however successful you are. What is your attitude towards the customer (just another person to cheat?), or your staff (just another poor man looking for some money?), or the tax collector (someone to hate with passion as he drains your bank accounts?). Can’t you do better with your attitude? Hey Mr. Entrepreneur! I ask again, what is your attitude? What is in your heart as you practice entrepreneurship? Again, I leave that to you. I have no light that is powerful enough to check the contents of your attitude and heart? Even if I had, you would simply run away from me before I execute my analysis! Wouldn’t you?
- Fairness and balance. They say unjust weights are an abomination. Are you fair to the different stakeholders and other parties and networks you operate and relate with? Shame on you if you think your staffs should work without having refreshments in the workplace, while you eat and become fatter by the day. Shame upon you if you never give the government a penny of your profits while you enjoy public resources and amenities. Shame upon you if you borrow money from the bank with fake title deeds and then show up shamelessly in court defending yourself. How about cheating your fellow shareholders? Whichever stakeholder you look at, I think you get an idea about what I’m saying. Don’t you?
- Serving humanity. My dear, responsible entrepreneurship also demands that you serve humanity. I think you can see in your area some businesses using CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) approaches in this respect. Yes – I can hear you say you invest heavily, take big risks, maintain flexibility, operate tenaciously to keep your business afloat and hence you should enjoy all the rewards. Let me remind you that the revenues you make come from society, even if you get some zillions in revenue from the government, the money stills comes from and belongs to society and humanity. Do you get me? Am I communicating? As an entrepreneur you need to add value to humanity, but not just run around being too busy running an enterprise for nothing. You can’t consume all the profits you make – assuming that you are making huge ones anyway. Good luck. Some don’t make it. You might stash away your fortune for some lazy children or dependents that might blow it away as fast and as suddenly as you proceed to the next world.
- Valuable and qualitative products and services. Now, I don’t like substandard things, be they products or services. I always strive to deliver quality and good value. Of course sometimes I fail but not always. Today you find so called entrepreneurs who focus their energy on producing substandard things day and night. Of course the world being what it is, the products still sell and these crazy guys go to the bank smiling and singing songs. My goodness! Please, I beg you; produce valuable and qualitative products and services. Take your time, and be remembered for something good. Don’t make a name for bad things. There are people who will even curse your shadow when they remember the loss you made them incur. Just imagine spending your hard-earned money on a watch that stops working even before you reach home! I can only imagine the words you will have for that manufacturer.
- The natural environment. The universe was created with every good thing, and with splendor. It is largely fantabulous. Mankind has done more than enough damage, and the same mankind now thinks it should correct the mistakes. Good luck! I see lots of contradictions. To make matters worse, there are entrepreneurs today who are still continuing to destroy the environment. Come on! Responsible entrepreneurship demands that you conserve the natural environment. Are we together? Don’t leave problems to your children and generation in the name of profits. They will not like it whatever justification, unless they are as skewed as yourself.
- Business continuity factor. Again, we hear people talk about sustainability, continuity, change management, succession, built-to-last, etc. I know some people are stickers and don’t like to hear these words. Nevertheless, these words are as solid as matter (I mean something that occupies space and has weight as defined in physics), and will stay. Responsible entrepreneurship requires that you focus on the long-term and be future oriented. I would be glad if all entrepreneurs think in this manner. Don’t be a dealing entrepreneur, just targeting deals for a short while and you are running like someone is chasing you. Learn continuously, transform, consider options, and build enterprises that will last beyond you to continue adding value to humanity. I’m impressed by businesses that have been there forever! I admire their game plan. I mean it.
- Personal and corporate integrity. Are you an honest entrepreneur? Do you keep your word? Are you not crafty? These are some of the issues people look at when considering whether you are a responsible entrepreneur or not. I mean, if you sell to people machinery items with a manufacturing defect you need to have the honesty to recall the products and replace the faulty parts. If you promise to support a cause you need to fulfill your promise. Don’t sell an item which has expired simply because you have reprinted the expiry date and you brag around because you have the capacity to change the expiry date. Don’t sell a piece of machinery which is an old model, instead of a new model, to some person because he is too dumb to even tell the model. Ok?
- Management of resources entrusted to you and your enterprise. Responsible entrepreneurship also dictates that you properly manage resources entrusted into your hands. I don’t care what resources they are, or how you got those resources, but for now I assume that you got them through the right channels anyway. You can judge yourself. What I’m simply saying is that you should take good care of productive resources entrusted to you. Be a good custodian and multiplier of value.
- Effectiveness and efficiency in delivery of goods and services. Closely connected to my point on resource management above, is the issue of creating and delivering value with effectiveness and efficiency. As a responsible entrepreneur, you need to be creative and innovative. Find ways to cut down costs not only to boost your profit but also to provide more affordable products and services to the consumer. Re-invent if required. Have a renaissance mentality. Rejuvenate and sharpen the saw. Tell me if your enterprise will be called responsible when you deliver one year after the agreed delivery date. It’s not pleasant.
Now, these are reality checks. If you happen to be an entrepreneur who finds himself or herself wanting in some of the above, don’t rain unprintable words against me or run away from this blog. Ok? It’s never too late to change. This blog is for you. We all miss some things sometimes. If you happen to be a consumer who finds his supplier cum entrepreneur wanting in some of the above, don’t boycott their business or return everything including a piece of cloth you bought from them ten years ago. Ok? They are humans like you and have tried to add value to your life in their feeble way.
Some of the above points bite – but medicine is good and gives healing!
For entrepreneurs that are likeminded in attaining the higher standards, best wishes and God speed.
Enjoy yourself – and take care,
The Wise Entrepreneur