Yesterday we looked at the fourth of five errors made by Responsible Entrepreneurs: distancing yourself from customers by relying on market research.

Error Five: Borrowing and Tacking the Ethical and Sustainability Practices of Other Businesses Onto Yours

Why is this an error? When your business borrows plans and practices from other businesses, you can have no idea whether they will make better communities, ecosystems, and economies, and you lose a critical source of innovation and motivation.

Now that sustainability has become an industry,  we can buy programs and plans off the shelf. We can pay consultants to do our responsibility work for us, and  we often do. When a business works and thinks strategically, every decision arises from core beliefs and principles. When it borrows, its people follow a set of practices that are labeled “best” but are probably not validated by the most important question, “Does this make a positive difference in our stakeholders’ health and vitality?” Even worse, by following best practices a business risks losing what makes it distinctive and reverting to Error One, too much time and emphasis on trends and competitive assessments.

New Business Acumen: Learn how to start from global imperatives that are meaningful in the context of your business and part of the ethics of each of your people. Global imperatives are not goals; they are articulate beliefs about how stakeholder domains work when they are ecologically sound and evolving in a systemic way for the benefit of all stakeholders. Only when this way of thinking is developed and utilized can you increase the odds that you are making a difference and build a base for innovation that comes uniquely from your business.

There are a few hundred more ridiculously common errors, all of which spring from good intentions. At The Responsible Entrepreneur Institute, we educate and develop people in the core business acumen needed to avoid them. Our track record includes building successful small businesses and growing them with strong financial and responsible platforms.


Learn more about our programs and get an introduction to the five new business acumen arenas on January 10, 2013 at 5 pm Pacific Time. The call is free but space is limited. You must register to attend. If you register and are unable to attend, you may receive a free recording of the call within a few days after January 10.