While we don't want to sound cynical, we hope to convince you of exactly how important your reputation is, and how easily it can be tarnished. People will be much quicker to remember the few mistakes you have made than to sing the praises of your otherwise unblemished career. The good is easier to forget than the bad.
You may think integrity is a word that is typically only used in commercials by banks that want to make people feel confident in them. Well, no matter whether you provide flower delivery or outsourced business consulting, you need people to put their faith in you. You develop a solid customer base and assure the loyalty of your consumers by being loyal to them.
Integrity is basically a synonym for honesty. It is a strict and reliable devotion to a code of moral principles. It is about having your word carry weight. If people feel that your honest modus operandi is dependable, they will be more comfortable doing repeat business with you, as well as recommending you to others. Consistency in your method of doing business gains trust and loyalty in business partners, and can be a strategic way to maintain a customer base. When you are good to people, they feel a responsibility toward you. They are less likely to choose competing providers or look elsewhere in the first place.
As a component of your business ethic, integrity has a dual benefit. It gives others faith in your operating style, and it teaches you to live up to their expectations. Take, for example, the idea of reliable consistency in a product. On any given college campus, there are probably a number of coffeehouses. Usually they are situated pretty close together. If you were on the run, and wanted to grab a hazelnut latte to fuel up for a two-hour biochemistry lecture, where would you get it, Starbucks or CafeCaffeine? Clearly, you would opt for the tried-and-true Starbucks over the small town unknown CafeCaffeine. Why? Because the local place is a gamble Will they make the hazelnut latte well? Will the cup be burning hot? Do they have convenient sugar packets? Will they have the right kind of hazelnut syrup? Will they be friendly and courteous? All these questions are unnecessary at Starbucks. They have built up a reputation for consistently good hazelnut lattes (according to our standards), and the general public believes that it can rely on the integrity of Starbucks in always offering the same product.
Of course, that is not to imply that only a national chain can develop a reputation for consistency in a product. (But to become a national chain, you must have consistency in your product.) The feeling of integrity demonstrated by a consistently good cup of Java can be applied to any business, and includes the reputation for integrity in standards of product, pricing, promptness, friendliness, customer service, and the like.
Please pardon the gratuitously obvious reference to Starbucks, but we are trying to use examples that everyone can relate to And sadly, coffee is as strong a common ground as can be found among the college population today. But we digress. The point here is that integrity can take many forms. Above all, a reputation for integrity in the way you operate is an important component of your business ethic because it will simultaneously strengthen your client base and establish your name and principles.