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How to Create Your Ethics Statement

Considerations for creating your website's ethics statement.

Do you live by your principles? Is how you run your business based on those very same guideposts? If someone were to ask you what principles you run your business by, would you, without hesitation, have a concise and enthusiastic answer for them?

prin⋅ci⋅ples
a guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct: a person of principle.

If you read my post, How to E-A-T Your SEO, I discuss how your trustworthiness contributes to your business's website and overall perception. Since then, I have received several emails asking how to go about accomplishing that.

Mission Statement vs. Ethics Statement

You can have a Mission Statement also. Your Mission Statement is generally a couple of sentences stating your primary core ethic clearly and concisely. However, your Ethics Statement allows you to go one step further and explain how that Mission Statement came to be and how you will back it up.

Why have an ethics/trust statement on your website? Because it allows you to share in detail what you feel is vital to those who are considering doing business with you and what they can count on. That's called a win-win!

Over the years, I have found that many who want to start an online business for additional income or replace their current income have no baseline of what principles should guide them. Instead, they just want to make money.

New business owners do not realize that by having a written ethics statement on your website and backing that up, you can separate yourself from the competition, which will contribute to your ongoing success over the long run.

My Code of Ethics

I have always posted My Code of Ethics for all to view. My Ethics Statement is a declaration about how I run my business. If you want to work with me and read that page, you will know what I stand for. I note what I do, what can be expected, as well as, and just as important, what I am unable to help with.

Once you have your trust and ethics statement in place, it permeates every decision you make. So, for example, I do not use affiliate links where I can make a buck or two, to make a buck or two, unless I've used the product myself. (See me Affiliate Statement).

And I've been offered some incredible deals to promote products on this site that I haven't used. But I can't do that because I know folks trust me to give them the truth.

So what is true about pushing a product I've never used or had experience with? If I use the product and it rocks, I'm all in. Otherwise, I'll pass.

I have operated based on my stated principles every day for the over 27 years I've been doing business online. But, in addition, that one little page has made my life a lot easier. You know where I stand because I take a stand on what I stand for.

You should be as transparent and do that by creating such a statement page for your business. It puts you on the record and helps build your trust factor with those contemplating doing business with you.

Your principles need to be based on what I call the 5 Core Values—respect, honesty, integrity, ethics, and character. Sadly, too many websites feel these stated values are not necessary or something they can disregard. To make a buck. These tend to be the sites that I categorize as “here today; gone tomorrow.”

5 Core Values

Here are considerations to mull over as you create your unique statement of trust for your website:

  1. RESPECT: Your primary guidepost should be to respect the time and efforts of others. Whether that be suppliers, partners or customers. Not respecting others time or hard earned dollars is a critical error in judgment.
  2. HONESTY: You need to be upfront and transparent about how you run your business. This includes any mistakes you will make. And you will make mistakes — we all do. You need to be prepared to right your mistakes promptly and without excuses regardless of the cost to you to do so. Own it.
  3. INTEGRITY: You must be prepared to stick to your principles regardless of what the monetary value may be. I've had many an opportunity to rip-off customers by taking advantage of what they don't know to make more money. I also could sell products at great margins that I do not use or have confidence in. But I don't. Neither should you. Set high standards for your promotional activities.
  4. ETHICS: Be ready and prepared to do what's right regardless of the pressure, hype or cajoling by others to do otherwise. You know when that is. We've all been there. Sometimes standing against the tide is the toughest thing to do — but it can be the right thing to do!
  5. CHARACTER: Character is born of the four traits above. This is how you build your reputation as an honest and forthright business owner. Reputation cannot be bought, it must be earned. Every. Single. Day.

Simply slapping up a Code of Ethics or a Trust Statement will not make your business a success. But standing and living by that statement consistently over the years is how you build a trustworthy reputation.

What do you and your business stand for?

How will you know if you cross a line if you cannot put into words the values you hold when running your business? When will you know it's time to tap out and follow a different path? A possibly even more profitable course.

Without the above, you are no different from all the other fly-by-nights or snake oil websites that exist purely to take advantage of or to get into the pocketbooks of their customers, with business models that rarely last.

Doing what's right because that's how you roll, and telling everyone who wants to read it what that is, allows you to look yourself in the mirror at the end of each day and know you did the very best you could. By those who know you, those you work with, and most importantly yourself.

Important principles may and must be inflexible.
Abraham Lincoln

Honesty — and Flexibility

Having principles doesn't mean you are not flexible. On the contrary, you may need to modify your ethics statement as you run into new situations you may not have considered at its inception. But, only do so when these changes uphold your stated core values.

Be open to doing that, as flexibility can lead to new opportunities. Just be sure that you are willing to live by and for those changes. The key is to be truthful and transparent and then back that up.

The key is to foment trust by being upfront about what is important to you and your business. Keep in mind that not everyone may agree with your statements. And, that's okay — you can't be everything to everyone.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get your ethics statement in place!

At your service,

Judith: WordPress Consultant and Business Coach