Business Ethics & Mistakes you should avoid!

Business Mistakes

As an individual that works very hard at maintaining relationships and attempts to help anyone at anytime he possibly can, I see some pretty interesting mistakes that people make, DAILY! Sometimes, I have to admit, I’ve made the mistake of burning a bridge or two at past companies, just by the simple fact of not understanding how important it was not to hurt a relationship. But, I now know that there are some things that you should NEVER do…and I mean NEVER.

The Obvious One: There is never a reason to “out a website”:

There was a lot of chatter about this back at the end of April about how no one should ever out a website. I think this point has been beaten down your throats quite often. I commented on this a while back in that there really is no reason from a business or financial perspective to actually do this.

Todd Malicoat wrote an excellent post about what is your SEO Code? So, what is your SEO Code? Or, even better, what is your business code of ethics? Think about the following before outing another website:

•    What could you gain by outing another website or company?
•    How are you benefiting your businesses or growing as an individual by doing so?
•    Who are you HURTING financially in doing so? Think about it, the site you’re about to out and that could quite possibly be banned, could very well be a friend of yours. Do you want to be the reason that your friend or possibly even their kids don’t have food on the table?
•    Would you want someone to out your website publicly and possibly cost you a loss of income or some sort of financial burden.

Think through this before actually outing a company or reporting another site. When in doubt, also, you might want to ask a friend privately, they might be able to provide some insight or talk it through with you. Again, at the end of the day, you don’t want to out a site that could cost someone his or her livelihood.

Battling for Profits: Never publicly talk about companies paying too much for a service:

We are all in business in some way or another at the end of the day and we are all out to make smart business decisions. I’ll admit that I’ve scored some pretty sweet contracts back in the day where I’d made a decent amount of money and didn’t really do much. Other industry professionals can vouch for this as well. In fact, recently at Revenue Bootcamp, Neil Patel and I have talked about this before and es“If I charge you 20k to increase your traffic and I do it, and its worth it to you, it shouldn’t matter how long I spend, if I did it in 1 hour, then better for me!”

What you might call “overcharging,” I call a “smart business move.”

If you find out that someone is charging a client a lot of money for a service, you should never use a medium like Twitter to talk about how much people should or shouldn’t charge for a service. If you are competing that market, go out there and try to win the business.

Stop Talking

There are too many factors that go into the rates of a consulting agreement that might not be obvious right up front. Things like the overhead of an agency, resources, services provided, etc. And, at the end of the day someone might have made a smart business deal and/or they have a client that is now going to question his or her consultant and create headache for no reason at all.

Don’t get all high and mighty and publicly talk about rates and charges over the Social Web, again, you never know if you have a friend or even business partner that you just cost a lot of money.

Secrets are Secrets: Secrets are meant to be private, keep them that way:

A lot of the sharing of secrets that have been heard at conferences and/or things shared in private aren’t being made as public anymore. But, that said, with the Social Web being ever so increasing, talking about things you hear at conferences becomes compelling.

Don’t do it!

Lots of us have websites, profiles on the Social Web, and/or businesses that we run that are meant to stay private. Revealing any of this through any social medium could cost someone a loss of income or, for some of us, our entire livelihood.

Also, if you’ve heard someone say something in passing or you could take out of context or you are attending a conference session where an individual asks you not to share or tweet about the information he or she is currently talking about, don’t share it. Remember the post by Brent Csutoras, “we know it’s social, but stfu already“…that will always be true.

Remember, if its questionable, it probably shouldn’t be done, and, at the very least, ask someone what they think before doing it, they will probably agree that you shouldn’t share it.

Burning a Bridge Can Will cost you in the long run!

broken relationship

People make this mistake too many times and I’ve even made it a few times years back. Whether its a co-worker that leaves on an angry note, someone you just dated that ended badly, or someone that is in your industry that you just happen to feel you just don’t “need” anymore.

The point: Everyone and anyone is valuable at some point. That bridge you just burned could be your future boss, future consultant, future investor, and/or someone that could bring your consultancy/agency new business. Remember, that you shouldn’t treat people as contacts, create relationships instead.

Granted, yes, there are going to be people that you just don’t get along with in business and personalities that don’t work together. But, rather than burning the bridge, separate yourself from the situation and at the end of the day, don’t be rude and or don’t personally insult people. That is where you REALLY start burning bridges and losing relationships and even contacts.

Being prepared and doing research pays off

Over the past week I have seen two of the most horrific examples of why research is so important. It is what we base our decision making on in our work lives, it is how we evangelize our expertise on to others, etc. Doing the right amount of research sets you up for success.

Here are some examples of how little to no research and/or bad research can leave you in a very sticky situation.

Speaking at a conference:
At the SXSW “Social Media Metrics” panel, there were 5 so called industry experts attempting to speak to this. The problem was 30 minutes into the panel, all that was talked about was CXO level buy in without providing any concrete examples or case studies about how to do so. Social Media properties like Twitter, Digg, etc. were brought up, and the panel had nothing to talk about. Also, questions were brought up in regards to “customer sentiment” and one panelist mentioned that there was no way to do any measurement on this, when there are a multitude.

The Panel really had no industry expertise. One panelist barely signed up for any social media properties, and other panelists, didn’t even have a web presence for their own name. Finally, when they were asked questions, they had no answers.
This was a horrific example of why not doing any research, providing any research or even being prepared for your audience can leave you in a very awkward situation. It makes you look like a completely unprepared, unprofessional and also devalues your professional expertise.

Writing Articles and Blog Posts:
On Search Engine Land, Shari Thurow wrote You’d Be Wise To “NoFollow” This Dubious SEO Advice (which I have nofollow’ed). She talks about how SEO’s are using this as a tool to build one thing for users and another for engines, similar to that of cloaking/IP Delivery.

Where did Shari make the mistake? Well, she failed to do the proper research on whether rel=”nofollow” was a form of cloaking or if it was just used to sculpt page rank. Also, she talks about the usage of “nofollow” as fake information architecture too, which since that seemed to be her focus, would have been a better title for the post.

There was a lot of backlash within the SEO world via twitter posts, comments, blog posts, etc. Shari derived a conclusion without proper research and therefore was made to not only look bad, but if writing for a major brand cause a lot of harm to the brand as well.

Research within the Community:

This is a very important part of being engaged in a community and not having your research can really hurt you personal/professional and even corporate brand. Things like Q&A Sessions, informal meetups, blog comments, and interviews can reflect you negatively, if you are not prepared.

An example of this was on Sunday at SXSW, there was a barrage on my twitter feed of people criticizing Mark Zuckerberg about his interview. You can also see this in multiple blog comments, informal meetups, conferences, etc.

Final Thoughts:
Being prepared and knowing your industry is very important when committing to any of the above items and will reflect on you, remember that! Be prepared and do your research, this will extremely benefit you and your brand.