9 great reasons to keep your word

African-American woman and caucasian man shaking hands

“Honesty and integrity are by far the most important assets of an entrepreneur.” 

Zig Ziglar

Say what? 

Surely the Big Idea that will revolutionize the world and make the new business take off like a rocket is much more important! Or any of the assets that go on the balance sheet.

Actually, I do believe Zig Ziglar was right. Do you?

Are honesty and integrity really your greatest assets?

Greater than business acumen? The new, shiny product? How about the massive mailing list or positively huge social media following? 

If he was here, I think Mr. Ziglar would make the case that none of that matters without honesty and integrity. Because nobody really likes being cheated or doing business with a crook.

A major way to go about business (and life) with honesty and integrity is to keep your word:

  1. It’s the right thing to do. Maybe I’m “old fashioned” but I don’t believe that the end justifies the means. There is such a thing as right and wrong. We all know in our hearts that this is true. And this truth reveals itself especially when we’re on the receiving end of being wronged. Keeping your word is the right thing to do.  
  2. It builds character. It’s easy to keep your word when all goes according to plan. But when you keep your word even when it hurts to do so, you are building strength of character. “Integrity alone won’t make you a leader, but without it you’ll never be one.” – Zig Ziglar
  3. It builds trust. When you give people what you promised, you’re making “trust deposits” in your account. People see you as reliable and honest. In our online businesses, it’s easy for someone to want what we’re offering, but without the trust factor, they may hover over that “buy” button and choose not to click it. Keeping your word and building trust takes that fear away. They know when they click the “buy” button they’re getting what you promised.
  4. It retains customers. People do business with those they know, like and trust. Keeping your word is vital for maintaining trust and keeping loyal clients. By contrast, if you don’t keep your word, customers will flee, and spread the word that you’re not reliable. 
  5. It sets you apart. In a world full of scam artists, it’s refreshing to find a business that operates with honesty and integrity. You earn a reputation for keeping your word and that sets you apart from those who don’t. “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” — Proverbs 22:1.
  6. It makes you profitable. “Profitability comes from loyalty, productivity, and having a character base from which to work.” – Zig Ziglar. Keeping your word is foundational to building that strong character base. Integrity alone won’t make you profitable, but without it, any profits you make will sprout wings and fly away.
  7. It helps you make wise promises. If you establish from the outset that you’ll always keep your word, you’re more careful about the promises you make. Beware of making rash promises. Instead, make promises you know you can keep and even exceed. Customers are delighted to receive more than what you promised.
  8. It protects your business. In our litigious society, a broken promise could land you in court. Keeping your word is cheap insurance to prevent that from happening. “With integrity, you have nothing to fear, since you have nothing to hide. With integrity, you will do the right thing, so you will have no guilt.” – Zig Ziglar
  9. It helps you sleep at night. There’s nothing like a clear conscience to provide a good night’s sleep! By keeping your word, you can lay your head on your pillow at night with the satisfaction and peace of mind that you did the right thing.

When Things Don’t Go as Planned

You may say, “That’s all good and well, but what about when stuff happens outside of my control?” Even with our best efforts, unforeseen events do occur and now we’re stuck having made a promise that we either can’t fulfill or to do so will cost us dearly. What do we do?

  • Keep your word despite the extra cost. You might even want to share openly what has happened and what it will cost you, but that your integrity is more valuable to you than your profit. Such a response may come back to benefit you in ways you cannot now imagine!
  • Offer something better. If it’s within your power to offer your customers something even better in place of your original offer, this too can sustain your integrity and the trust and loyalty of your customers.
  • Offer a full refund with apologies. If the previous 2 options are not possible, be honest with your customers about what happened. Give them a full refund with a humble apology. But provide them with a positive glimpse of what you will have to offer them in the future. 

Keeping your word is no small matter. But it’s a great foundation to build your business on.

“We learned about honesty and integrity – that the truth matters… that you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules… and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.”

Michelle Obama

“Moral authority comes from following universal and timeless principles like honesty, integrity, treating people with respect.”

Stephen Covey

“I would rather be accused of breaking precedents than breaking promises.”

John F. Kennedy


Man and woman shaking hands

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