Running an Ethical Accounting Practice


The best way to run a worry-free business is to operate in an ethical manner.  As Mark Twain once said, “If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything.”  In that respect, it takes more effort to run a fraudulent company than it does to run an ethical one.  And while they teach ethics on university campuses and at business conferences, practicing ethics in your small business is really is just a matter of thoughtful reflection.

Here are six key principles that will enable you to run an ethical accounting practice:

1. Work hard and smart.  Individuals with good work ethics are diligent and industrious.  If you dedicate yourself to growing your business using sound and ethical principles, you won’t have the time to engage in immoral and fraudulent conduct.  And if you have employees, your work ethic will guide them by example, creating a workplace filled with honest and honorable individuals.

2. Honesty IS the best policy.  Nothing can ruin your business reputation quicker than dishonesty.  One white lie can loose you countless clients and forever brand you as the dishonest accountant.

3. Comply with laws, legal and moral.  You must decide to always abide by legal and moral laws before encountering any situation that might tempt you to compromise them; it makes it easier to respond ethically if you’ve already made the choice to do so.

4. Always consider the well-being of others.  You should consider the well-being of others when making crucial business decisions.  While you must make decisions that will profit your business, you should also take into account how those decisions impact others.  When taking action, think of how your choices will affect everyone involved, either directly or indirectly: clients, employees, members of the community, local business owners, and yes, your family members.  Then make an informed decision.

5. Only institute fair business practices.  Whether it regards marketing, your employees, or even the description of your services online, you must institute and observe fair business practices.  One wrong step and you can ruin your reputation as a trustworthy accountant.  Once that word gets out you’ll find potential clients questioning your integrity, and as a result, the quality of your work.

6. Create your own Code of Ethics.  The wonderful world of business ethics is not necessarily a place with clear, delineated boundaries.  At some point you must determine what is considered ethical to you.  In order to run a practice where everyone’s on the same page you must create your own code of ethics in order to communicate what your values are and how you expect to uphold them.

It’s important that you consider whether or not you run an ethical practice.  When you observe ethical standards, those you associate with will recognize your integrity, a characteristic that potential clients are looking for in an accountant.  Once you establish yourself as an ethical business owner, you’ll be on your way to building a solid reputation.  And often a good reputation is one form of marketing that you just can’t pay for.

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