Ethics are often taught separately from business skills. In fact, they affect every business. They are not an afterthought. As you build your company, you must deal with ethical considerations that affect how successful you will be. Though you might be tempted to focus on the nuts-and-bolts aspects for running a business and making a profit, you can't avoid ethical concerns that are common to all businesses.

Treatment of Employees

Deciding how you will treat employees requires you to consider many ethical issues from fair pay to providing a safe and healthy work environment. Your decisions demonstrate your ethical responsibility toward your employees. If you consistently make decisions that devalue your employees, you may find that their work offers less and less value to your company. Conversely, if you make ethical decisions that show your concern for the well-being of the people that work for you, this can have a positive effect on your company.

Fair Competition

Your pursuit of profits requires you to forgo ethical short cuts and compete fairly. Decisions about whether to spread rumors about the competition, put out misleading marketing messages or misrepresent the quality of your products affect not only your reputation but also your ability to make sound business decisions. If you must consistently cut ethical corners to make a profit, you show that you lack the business acumen to compete fairly. On the other hand, if you maintain an ethical stance in all your competitive strategies, you can gain a reputation for shrewdness and honesty at the same time.

Fianancial Reporting

Accounting ethics require you to be accurate and to fully disclose all of your financial dealings. Your decision to live up to those standards impacts your company's ability to borrow money, attract investors and get favorable rates from vendors. Even the hint that you have misrepresented your finances can ruin your company's reputation and destroy your customers' confidence in you. However, if you maintain scrupulous honesty in your accounting, you can gain a reputation for honesty that will open doors with banks, joint venture partners and new markets.

Social Impact

Your decisions about the impact of your company on society can determine your success. If you consistently make decisions that benefit the community, your industry or society, people will come to see your brand in a positive way. If you disregard the social implications of your decisions or consistently make decisions that harm people, the resulting bad reputation can hamper your ability to grow. In cases where any decision you make will harm somebody, expressing your genuine concern about the situation will at least demonstrate that you are aware of the social impact of your decisions. For example, if you sell a product meant for adults, such as alcohol, and you acknowledge that some teens may consume your product illegally, your recognition of the dilemma can place you in a favorable light. If you spend some of your profits on public service announcements about the dangers of teen drinking, you will show that you put your money where your ethics are.