Ethical Decision Making and the Entrepreneur

By Spinelli, S., Adams, R.J.

Edited by Paul Ducham

NECESSITY OF ETHICS

In an article that examines the ancient tradition of moral education, the decline of moral instruction beginning in the 19th century, and the renaissance of interest in ethics in the 1960s, Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University, argues that ethics can and should be taught by educational institutions and that this teaching is both necessary and of value. Dr. Bok’s comments may be summarized as follows:

 Universities by nature encourage diverse communities, often divided and confused over their own values, as well as the values of others. A learning environment that pays little attention to moral development may find that many of its students fall under the incorrect impression that ethical dilemmas are simply matters of personal opinion beyond external judgment or careful analysis. Universities should be the last institutions to discourage a thorough study in ethical behaviors and philosophies. 

 Some of America’s top business schools seem to agree. Harvard and Wharton both include business ethics as a substantial part of their MBA curricula, and Georgetown, Virginia, and Minnesota all have endowed chairs in the field. Fully 90 percent of the nation’s business schools now offer some training in the area, demonstrating widespread recognition of the need to provide future leaders with a strong ethical foundation.

 In addition, we are now seeing the emergence of numerous courses on socially responsible business and entrepreneurship, and on environmentally sustainable and responsible businesses.

COMPETITIVE ENTREPRENEUR

Entrepreneurs who truly know themselves and understand not only their own morals and values, but also those of the people they surround themselves with, make the best decisions. This manifests itself in a number of ways. First, they can invite people of similar philosophies into their team and brain trust. Second, this produces teams that are honest about their own capabilities and shortcomings, which instills trust and confidence. This is critical because of the environment in which their decisions will be made. Often in entrepreneurship, particularly in the launch and growth stages of a new venture, the environment is chaotic, unpredictable, and frequently unforgiving.

New venture decisions must be made whether or not the correct solution is evident, and serious mistakes, especially ethical ones, are rarely made during quiet and orderly times. However, team members who wholeheartedly believe in and live by sound ethical standards will usually make better decisions, despite stressful circumstances.

Take Time to Reflect  To make good decisions you must identify and understand yourself and the scope and the effects of your own self-interest. Knowing your biases and weaknesses offers an opportunity for personal development and to clearly define your personal and business goals and objectives.

 Take the time now, while life is relatively calm, to determine what is important to you and why. During these times you can consider your stakeholders, your personal motivations, and the impact those can have on your decision making. Because your judgment will be less clouded prior to launch, the planning process for your new venture should include a good bit of introspection.

Recognize Self-Interest  Our perceptions are filtered by who we are: our experiences, beliefs, and preferences—all the things that make us unique and shape what is important to us.

Henry Brooks Adams, a historian and author as well as the great-grandson of John Adams and the grandson of John Quincy Adams, summed up the peril faced by a person who overwhelmingly pursues his or her own self-interest when he wrote, “Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your selfrespect.” The pursuit of self-interest without realizing the pitfalls it presents can be costly and even dangerous. Here are some major influences to consider:

Emotion: What you love, hate, or fear will influence your perception and therefore your decisions. The people whom you feel most strongly about can have a tremendous influence on your decisions. Like divorces, partnership breakups can become so emotionally charged with selfinterest that decisions made ignore the best outcome for anyone involved.

Motivation: Entrepreneur and investor Khalil Tuzman, in his “Entrepreneur’s Survival Kit,” lists five individual motivators: to attain wealth, to achieve recognition or fame, to feel courageous, to be healthy, and to find contentment. If the motivation is to win at any cost, for example, fair play and ethics will have far less influence over your decisions than they should.

Stakeholders: Who will be affected by your decisions and how? Recognize that the closer they are to you, the more effect they will have on your decision making.

ACADEMIC ETHICS

The study of ethics does seem to make students more aware of the pervasiveness of ethical situations in business settings, and helps to bring perspective to ethical situations. Further, the study of ethics has been shown to affect, to some degree, both beliefs and behavior.

One study used the Kohlberg construct, a sequence of stages devised to break down moral instincts and behaviors. These stages are presented in Exhibit 10.1. Being moral in Stage 1 is synonymous with being obedient, and the motivation is to avoid condemnation. In Stage 2, the individual seeks advantage. Gain is the primary purpose, and interaction does not result in binding personal relationships. The orientation of Stage 3 is toward pleasing others and winning approval. Proper roles are defined by stereotyped images of majority behavior. Such reciprocity is confined to primary group relations. In Stage 4, cooperation is viewed in the context of society as a whole. External laws coordinate moral schemes, and the individual feels committed to the social order. We thus subscribe to formal punishment by police or the courts. In Stage 5, there is acknowledgment that reciprocity can be inequitable. New laws and social arrangements now may be invoked as corrective mechanisms. All citizens are assured of fundamental safety and equality. Cognitive structures at the Stage 6 level automatically reject credos and actions that the individual considers morally reprehensible, and the referent is a person’s own moral framework, rather than stereotyped group behavior. Because most people endorse a law does not guarantee its moral validity; when confronting social dilemmas, the individual is guided by internal principles that may transcend the legal system. Although these convictions are personal, they are also universal because they have worth and utility apart from the individual espousing them. Kohlberg’s final stage thus represents more than mere conformity with state, teacher, or institutional criteria. Rather, it indicates one’s capacity for decision making and problem solving in the context of personal ethical standards. In the study, those who took a course in business ethics showed a progression up the ethical scale, while those who had not taken a course did not progress.

Exhibit 10.1

ETHICAL DECISION MAKING

Some may find it surprising to learn that there is no perfect approach to dealing with ethically charged situations. In fact, people who subscribe to a “one best” approach can find themselves making decisions that, after the fact, others view as unethical. Similarly, lacking an understanding of the different approaches may lead to missteps because the decision maker fails to recognize the ethical implications of a particular situation.

When considering what to do in a situation with ethical overtones, it is useful to be familiar with different approaches to ethics. These varied approaches become ethical screens—similar to the opportunity screens. Taking a multifaceted approach can prevent someone from unknowingly making an ethical mistake. We will briefly consider three widely used approaches.

Aristotle, the Greek philosopher, provided one of the oldest approaches to ethics. To him it seemed that the aim of each person should be to perfect his or her inherent human nature, and if successful, become a person of virtue. By striving to be virtuous, and by emulating what people who are widely considered to be virtuous do in similar situations, we can, over time, develop habits of virtue. In modern terms, this is akin to choosing to observe and emulate exemplary role models.

Two issues arising from this approach can lead an entrepreneur to make poor decisions. The first is choosing the wrong person to emulate, such as former Enron CEO Jeff Skilling. The second is that neither the actions actually taken nor the consequences of the actions are directly addressed—only that the “court of opinion” holds the actions to have been virtuous.

A second approach to ethics focuses on the consequences or outcomes of actions. This approach is called utilitarianism, and its most often cited proponent is John Stewart Mill, a 19th-century English philosopher. It holds that the ethical person will always choose actions that will provide for the greatest good (or least bad) for the greatest number of people. When considering what action to take, an ethical entrepreneur acting from a utilitarian perspective would mentally calculate the impact of the action on each stakeholder. Therefore, it is not the action that is being judged as ethical or unethical, but rather the collective impact of that action. A familiar way of expressing this is the saying that “the ends (consequences) justify the means (actions taken).”

This is probably one of the most widely used approaches in business and is the only system many people consider. It is also known as Machiavellianism after the author of the famous book The Prince . The challenge with this approach is that you can hit a wall when conflicts and your own self-interest collide. For example, what is the ethical decision in the following situation? A person comes to your door armed with a gun. He asks for your spouse and announces that he has come to kill that person. In all civilized societies, it would be illegal, immoral, and unethical for you to kill this person threatening your family with no provocation other than his words. So what do you do?

A number of issues can make the utilitarian approach difficult to adhere to or can lead entrepreneurs to take actions that may be considered unethical. First, it permits decisions that may hurt some stakeholders, as long as the majority benefits from the action. Second, a narrow view of who the stakeholders are may lead to unethical decisions because we may fail to consider a stakeholder such as the environment. Third, the proximity of stakeholders, or the degree to which they demand attention, may cause the decision maker to ignore (or forget) them. Fourth, there is a thin line between seeking the greatest good for the greatest number and seeking the greatest good for yourself . Self-interest can justify many deplorable actions because they maximize personal outcomes to the exclusion of all else. The last important issue stems from the fact that people are judged as ethical or unethical based on the actions they take, not by how they calculate the utility of the outcomes. We must have a means of considering the action apart from the outcomes. That leads into our third approach, deontology.

Deontology means duty—one’s duty to act. According to Immanuel Kant, the 18th-century German philosopher, deontology focuses on the precepts that should determine action. This approach is pursued without concern for the outcomes of actions, but according to whether the action is something that an ethical person would do. Actions, then, are undertaken because they are right in themselves, whether or not the outcomes benefit or harm the person taking the actions. People therefore should act in ways that one would hope become the universal laws of society. In situations where one’s duty to society conflicts with one’s self-interest, one must act in accordance with the duty to society regardless of the consequences. For example, if lying is not what you would want to have as a universal law in society, then you should never lie, even if lying would benefit you personally or benefit your stakeholders.

There are difficulties with blind adherence to a deontological viewpoint. First, it is difficult for a person to take actions that violate self-interest—even when the person taking the action is not an egoist and is trying to truly do the greatest good for the greatest number. Second, unlike the virtue approach, the court of public opinion is not considered; one takes the action based on principle, not according to what others think. Third, deontology does not deal well with conflicts between actions that are each considered ethical. For example, consider the quandary of an entrepreneur caught between the desire to be with her ailing parents and the desire to go to Africa and build a venture that could bring potable water to thousands of villages.

APPLICATIONS OF ETHICAL DECISION MAKING

So how can we use these approaches? We suggest that you use them as decision-making screens to view the outcome and impact of any action you might take. A good place to start would be the most widely used approach, utilitarianism. Carefully enumerate the stakeholders, being sure to include everyone, not just the convenient ones or the ones making the most noise. When you have decided on an action, apply the Aristotelian approach by asking, “What would a really ethical entrepreneur in this situation do?” You might ask people in your network and brain trust to tell you what they have done in similar situations. Finally, look at the action you are taking alone—separate from the consequences. Is this action pure? That is, is it something that you would be proud to have as the headline your mother reads when she Googles you?

 Will using these screens guarantee an ethical decision? Certainly not! But considering different approaches to the same issue will help prevent ethical myopia—a narrowly defined ethical perspective that can lead to trouble. Finally, consider how a given stakeholder might accuse you of taking an unethical action. Remember: Entrepreneurship involves risk and making tough calls—often ethically charged ones—on the fly. It is always best to approach those challenges knowingly, with your ethical eyes wide open.

ENTREPRENEUR PERSPECTIVE

Most entrepreneurs also believe ethics should be taught. In the research project previously mentioned, entrepreneurs and chief executive officers attending the Owner/President Management (OPM) program at the Harvard Business School were asked, Is there a role for ethics in business education for entrepreneurs? Of those responding, 72 percent said ethics can and should be taught as part of the curriculum. (Only 20 percent said it should not, and two respondents were not sure.)

 The most prominently cited reason for including ethics was that ethical behavior is at the core of longterm business success, because it provides the glue that binds enduring successful business and personal relationships together. In addition, the responses reflected a serious and thoughtful awareness of the fragile but vital role of ethics in entrepreneurial attainment and of the long-term consequences of ethical behavior for a business. Typical comments were these:

  • If the free enterprise system is to survive, the business schools better start paying attention to teaching ethics. They should know that business is built on trust, which depends on honesty and sincerity. In a small company, lack of integrity is quickly exposed. 
  • If our society is going to move forward, it won’t be based on how much money is accumulated in any one person or group. Our society will move forward when all people are treated fairly—that’s my simple definition of ethics. I know of several managers, presidents, and the like with whom you would not want to get between them and their wallets or ambitions. 
  • In my experience the business world is by and large the most ethical and law-abiding part of our society. 
  • Ethics should be addressed, considered, and thoroughly examined; it should be an inherent part of each class and course . . .; instead of crusading with ethics, it is much more effective to make high ethics an inherent part of business— and it is. However, these views were not universally held. One entrepreneur who helped to found a large company with international operations warned, “For God’s sake, don’t forget that 90 percent of the businessman’s efforts consist of just plain hard work.” 

There is also some cynicism. The 40-year-old head of a real estate and construction firm in the Northeast with 300 employees and $75 million in annual sales said, “There is so much hypocrisy in today’s world that even totally ethical behavior is questioned since many people think it is some new negotiating technique.” 

It would be unfortunate if the entrepreneur did not realize his or her potential for combining action with ethical purpose because of the suspicion that the two are unrelated or inimical. There is no reason they need be considered generically opposed. Nevertheless, in analyzing ethics, the individual can expect no substitute for his or her own effort and intelligence.

INTEGRITY

Harvard Business School Professor Lynn Paine distinguishes among avoiding legal sanctions, compliance, and the more robust standard of integrity:

 From the perspective of integrity, the task of ethics management is to define and give life to an organization’s guiding values, to create an environment that supports ethically sound behavior, and to instill a sense of shared accountability among employees.  

 Paine goes on to characterize the hallmarks of an effective integrity strategy (see Exhibit 10.2) and the strategies for ethics management (see Exhibit 10.3).

Exhibit 10.2

Exhibit 10.3

NEW VENTURE

The environment around a new venture is often chaotic. Lessons can be learned from an even more chaotic environment: combat. There is a concept called “the fog of war” that goes back to the 19th century, when Prussian general Carl von Clausewitz wrote,

War is the realm of uncertainty; three-quarters of the factors on which action is based are wrapped in a fog of greater or lesser uncertainty.

When bullets are flying and lives are at stake, critical decisions must be made without the benefit of a perfect understanding of the whole picture. In the same way, the fog of the start-up battle that a typical entrepreneur faces could include intense pressures from outside influences like the following:

  • Your spouse says you’re not home enough. 
  • Your Aunt Tillie, your father, and your mother-inlaw have each put in $50,000 . . . which is gone. 
  • Everything takes too long and costs too much. 
  • Your business isn’t working as it was supposed to. 
  • You are doing nothing but damage control. 
  • You have slowed down payments to creditors, who are now screaming and making threats. 
  • You have maxed out your refinanced line of credit and your credit cards, and you have discounted receivables and inventories to get the cash in sooner. Still, you figure you have just 18 business days of cash left. 
  • Investors will put in money, but they want two more seats on the board and a much larger percentage of ownership. 
  • The bank reminds you that you and your spouse have signed personal guarantees. 
  • The 80-ton dinosaur in your industry just moved into your market. 
  • The malcontent troublemaker you fired is suing you. Now, in the midst of these sorts of pressures, make a decision that might have serious financial and ethical consequences that could follow you the rest of your life!
ENTREPRENEUR ACTION

An entrepreneur will have to act on issues while under serious time constraints and when struggling for survival. In addition, the entrepreneur will most likely decide ethical questions that involve obligations on many fronts—to customers, employees, stockholders, family, partners, self, or a combination of these. As you will see in the ethically charged situations, walking the tightrope and balancing common sense with an ethical framework can be precarious.

To cope with the inevitable conflicts, an entrepreneur should develop an awareness of his or her own team and investors, and those of the milieu within which the company competes for survival. As the successful entrepreneurs quoted earlier believe, in the long run, succumbing to the temptations of situational ethics will, in all likelihood, result in a tumble into the quicksand, not a safety net—just ask Steve Madden or the executives at Enron, Tyco, and Arthur Andersen.

An appreciation of this state of affairs is succinctly stated by Fred T. Allen, chairman and president of Pitney-Bowes:

As businessmen we must learn to weigh short-term interests against long-term possibilities. We must learn to sacrifice what is immediate, what is expedient, if the moral price is too high. What we stand to gain is precious little compared to what we can ultimately lose.

ENTREPRENEUR ADVICE

Many of the lessons learned in the military and on the battlefield can be instructive to entrepreneurs struggling with the chaos and uncertainties that go with the territory. Consider the following.

Experience Is Critical  Military troops are not sent into combat on the day they enlist. They receive relevant training and engage in stressful and chaotic simulations that are as close as possible to the real thing. In a new venture, an entrepreneur who has done it before has experience to help with chaos. In areas where they lack direct experience, entrepreneurs can compensate with a key hire, team member, mentor, consultant, board member, or professional.

Have a Plan B  Although designing “what if” scenarios is most often associated with the quantitative side of running a proactive business (costs, pricing, margins, and the like), thinking through contingency plans, particularly during the launch and growth stages, is an excellent way to avoid rash or ethically questionable decisions in the heat of a challenge. One technique to facilitate scenario dialog and planning is to have a brown-bag lunch with your partners and pose some tough ethical dilemmas you may face. Ask, “what would each of you do?”

DEVELOP STANDARDS

When faced with decisions on the fly—especially ones involving ethical issues—it can be helpful to have a clear and objective means to assess the situation. For example, at Everon IT, a remote IT services venture based in Boston, critical metrics for incoming, outgoing, and ongoing calls are projected large on the facing wall of the service area. Other walls feature motivational posters, challenge goals, employee accolades, and descriptions of goal-related rewards ranging from dinners for all to lavish vacation retreats. With everyone pulling together to meet and beat well-defined milestones, the office is charged with a sense of mission and purpose.

Find a Pessimist You Can Trust  Every lead entrepreneur should have a trusted, no-nonsense advisor in the brain trust who can provide brutally honest assessments when things seem to be off base. When these cautious, somewhat pessimistic advisors express their approval of a given decision or strategy, that validation can be a real confidence booster.

Don’t Forget the Mirror and Those Internet Headlines  Looking in the mirror can be a powerful, challenging exercise. You’ve just read the morning headlines all over the Internet that describe in intimate detail all of your actions and behaviors concerning a recent decision that—most unexpectedly— became highly visible and public. Is this the person you want to be known as? Is this a person the people you love and respect the most would admire and support? Is this a person you want your best friends and your family to know about? If you aren’t fully comfortable with your answers to these questions and what you see in the mirror as a result of an ethical decision you have to make, then you don’t have an acceptable answer yet. Don’t give up—but clean it up!

DIFFERENT VIEWS

Different reactions to what is ethical may explain why some aspects of venture creation go wrong, both during start-up and in the heat of the battle, for no apparent reason. Innumerable examples can be cited to illustrate that broken partnerships often can be traced to apparent differences in the personal ethics among the members of a management team. So too with investors. While the experienced venture capital investor seeks entrepreneurs with a reputation for integrity, honesty, and ethical behavior, the definition is necessarily subjective and depends in part on the beliefs of the investor and in part on the prevailing ethical climate in the industry sector in which the venture is involved.

PROBLEMS OF LAW

For entrepreneurs, situations where one law directly conflicts with another are increasingly frequent. For example, a small-business investment company in New York City got in serious financial trouble. The Small Business Administration stated the company should begin to liquidate its investments because it would otherwise be in defiance of its agreement with the SBA. However, the Securities and Exchange Commission stated that this liquidation would constitute unfair treatment of stockholders, due to resulting imbalance in their portfolios. After a year and a half of agonizing negotiation, the company was able to satisfy all the parties, but compromises had to be made on both sides.

 Another example of conflicting legal demands involves conflicts between procedures of the civil service commission code and the Fair Employment Practice Acts (dating from FDR). The code states that hiring will include adherence to certain standards, a principle that was introduced in the 20th century to curb the patronage abuses in public service. Recently, however, the problem of encouraging and aiding minorities has led to the Civil Service Commission Fair Employment Practice Acts, which require the same public agencies that are guided by CSC standards to hire without prejudice, and without the requirement that a given test shall serve as the criterion of selection. Both these laws are based on valid ethical intent, but the resolution of such conflicts is no simple matter.

 Further, unlike the international laws governing commercial airline transportation, there is no international code of business ethics. When doing business abroad, entrepreneurs may find that those with whom they do business have little in common with them—no common language, no common historical context for conducting business, and no common set of ethical beliefs about right and wrong and everything in between. For example, in the United States, bribing a high official to obtain a favor is considered both ethically and legally unacceptable; in parts of the Middle East, it is the only way to get things done. What we see as a bribe, those in parts of the Middle East see as a tip, like what you might give the headwaiter at a fancy restaurant in New York for a good table.

 “When in Rome” is one approach to this problem. Consulting a lawyer with expertise in international business before doing anything is another. Assuming that the object of an entrepreneur’s international business venture is to make money, he or she needs to figure out some way that is legally tolerable under the laws that do apply and that is ethically tolerable personally.

ENDS-AND-MEANS

A central question in any ethical discussion concerns the extent to which a noble end may justify ignoble means—or whether using unethical means for assumed ethical ends may subvert the aim in some way. As an example of a noble end, consider the case of a university agricultural extension service whose goal was to help small farmers increase their crop productivity. The end was economically constructive and profit oriented only in the sense that the farmers might prosper from better crop yields. However, to continue being funded, the extension service was required to predict the annual increases in crop yield it could achieve—estimates it could not provide at the required level of specificity. Further, unless it could show substantial increases in crop yields, its funding might be heavily reduced. In this case, the extension service decided, if need be, to fudge the figures because they felt that even though the presentation of overly optimistic predictions was unethical, the objectives of those running the organization were highly ethical, and even the unethical aspects could be condoned due to the overall positive impact of the organization. The funding source finally backed down in its demand, ameliorating the immediate problem. But if it had not, the danger existed that the individuals in this organization, altruistic though their intentions were, would begin to think that falsification was the norm and forget that actions that run contrary to ethical feelings gradually build a debilitating cynicism.

Another example is given in the case of a merger of a small rental service business with a midsize conglomerate. In this case, a partner in the rental firm became involved in a severe automobile accident and suffered multiple injuries shortly before the merger and was seemingly unable to return to work. The partner also knew that the outlook for his health in the immediate future was unpredictable. For the sake of his family, he was eager to seek some of the stock acquired in the merger and liquidate a large portion of his assets. However, federal law does not allow quick profit taking from mergers and therefore did not allow such a sale. The partner consulted the president and officers of the larger company, and they acquiesced to his plans to sell portions of his stock and stated their conviction that no adverse effect on the stock would result. Still unsure, the partner then checked with his lawyer and found that the federal law in question had almost never been prosecuted. Having ascertained the risk and having probed the rationale of the law as it applied to his case, the partner sold some of the stock acquired in the merger to provide security for his family. Although he subsequently recovered completely, this could not have been foreseen.

In this instance, the partner decided that a consideration of the intrinsic purpose of the law allowed him to act as he did. In addition, he made as thorough a check as possible of the risks involved in his action. He was not satisfied with the decision he made, but he believed it was the best he could do at the time.

AN EXAMPLE OF INTEGRITY

The complicated nature of entrepreneurial decisions is also illustrated in the following example. At age 27, an entrepreneur joined a new computer software firm with sales of $1.5 million as vice president of international marketing of a new division. His principal goal was to establish profitable distribution for the company’s products in the major industrialized nations. Stock incentives and a highly leveraged bonus plan placed clear emphasis on profitability rather than on volume. In one European country, the choice of distributors was narrowed to 1 from a field of more than 20. The potential distributor was a top firm, with an excellent track record and management, and the chemistry was right. In fact, the distributor was so eager to do business with the entrepreneur’s company that it was willing to accept a 10 percent commission rather than the normal 15 percent royalty. The other terms of the deal were acceptable to both parties. In this actual case, the young vice president decided to give the distributor the full 15 percent commission, even though it would have settled for less. This approach was apparently quite successful because, in five years, this international division grew from zero to $18 million in very profitable sales, and a large firm acquired the venture for $80 million. In describing his reasoning, the entrepreneur said his main goal was to create a sense of long-term integrity. He said further,

I knew what it would take for them to succeed in gaining the kind of market penetration we were after. I also knew that the economics of their business definitely needed the larger margins from the 15 percent, rather than the smaller royalty. So I figured that if I offered them the full royalty, they would realize I was on their side, and that would create such goodwill that when we did have some serious problems down the road—and you always have them—then we would be able to work together to solve them. And that’s exactly what happened. If I had exploited their eagerness to be our distributor, then it only would have come back to haunt me later on.

STAKEHOLDER

While working through the chaos and constantly considering how to get the most out of each dollar spent, it is important to remember the effects of your decisions, not only on team members, investors, and other stakeholders, but also on the environment. Environmental ethics can play a tricky role in entrepreneurship— there are so many challenges which already drain time, money, and patience that business owners sometimes struggle to consider the short- and long-term effects of their decisions on the natural world.

 Because there are no immediate or tangible returns, it is easy to overlook these concerns. The reality is that environmental regulations and public perceptions are becoming increasingly important, and will most likely have an effect on your venture at some point. It is best to assess possible issues from the very beginning. Ask yourself: What kinds of facilities will I need? How can I run those facilities to reduce or prevent harmful emissions? If building new facilities, how can I implement newer, cleaner technologies to help create more efficient and safer working environments? What materials will I need to create my product? Will they be safe for the environment, and will they be recyclable, biodegradable, or destined for the landfill?

 One company in California, for example, produced children’s toys including rubber ducks, each stamped with its own warning label about cancercausing chemicals. This is a company that clearly had issues in the design process. As entrepreneurs, we ought to provide examples of responsible, thoughtful business models. In addition, recent studies have demonstrated that companies which act ethically toward the environment outperform those that do not.  The long-term success of your venture directly depends on the sustainability of your business model,and customers and shareholders are more likely to trust and respect companies with robust environmental ethics.