Online business can be a war zone for ethics and this is partially due to the nature of not actually being face-to-face. You don't see this happening much in the physical products world, you actually see the opposite. You'll notice that businesses are now calling on ethics in their marketing messages by using phrases like "Ethically sourced" or "Fair Trade".
An Online Business Manager, I want to say to all business owners that it doesn't matter if you are face-to-face or not. Everyone should be treated as if they just walked up to your cafe window, and if you come across a business that isn't doing this, feel free to share this manifesto with them.
- Strive to make decisions within your business that are fair to both yourself, your staff and your customers. This means having some boundaries and protecting your biz, and being honest and fair to your customers. If you are late delivering, be honest. If your clients aren't on time, be honest with them as well on how this affects your day.
- Do not steal copy, content or products from other business owners. It's ok to use someone as a muse, it's not ok to directly copy. No one is above the law on this one.
- Only form collaborations with people (staff, contractors, JV Partners) that match my ethics. As the Ethics Coach says, "It's a liability to hire someone not committed to ethical behavior." Even if you aren't technically hiring them, partnerships matter in the ethics department.
- Engage and empower anyone who works within your business. Make sure their job improves the quality of their life and doesn't unnecessarily stress them out. No 2 AM texts unless the world is going up in flames. Everything isn't an emergency to everyone.
- If you accept money from someone only do so knowing that you will deliver. I also suggest protecting your business with a strong refund policy that matches your ethics. Not all businesses should offer refunds, but all should re-evaluate their offering if they get too many refund requests.
- Keep your commitments. Danielle LaPorte presents this well in this video when she says, Do what you say you are going to do. In fact, in my not so perfect past, I was a flake and this video changed my world.
- Please don't pay people or bots to leave fake reviews or testimonials for your business or service. Instead think about offering FREE products or services, in order to obtain HONEST FEEDBACK. Asking friends to try it out and give you honest feedback works too.