Ethics in a dog-eat-dog world

In some ways, I’m still the new kid on the block when it comes to owning and running a business, After all, the Dunham Group only began in 1994. In the last 15 years, dealing with suppliers, competitors and indeed even some clients, I realize that there is a way of doing business that I want nothing to do with. It’s based on the whole notion of suspicion. You probably know what I mean. It’s the kind of person or company that is always suspicious of the motives of suppliers or of anyone that they do business with. The presumption is that everyone is out to get you.

The second way of doing business is to believe in people around you and to start from a position of trust. We trust that the other person genuinely wants business partnership with us. I’d like to tell a story (experience) about this.

Sometime after we started our business, we received a call from a fellow by the name of Mike Collyer, who was an accountant at MacGillivray Partners. MacGillivray was and is the pre-eminent accounting firm in Hamilton Ontario. We were small guys at the time. We went into their board room and sat at one end of the board table and Mike sat at the other. He seemed a mile away. We discussed their web needs and felt that we were absolutely capable of meeting them. At the end of our discussion, Mike said, “Now about the price”. He told us that his daughter who was in IT had given him a price that he should pay for the work he was requested. We agreed that this price was fair and that we would do as much as we could for that budget.

As he stood up to lead us out of the room, Mike said, “now if the price get’s as high as twice what we discussed, I’ll understand.” We thanked him and said that it probably would rise that high, but we would be doing an awful lot more work for them, by enhancing their website. By the time he got to the door he said, “We have three offices you know… If the price gets to be three times what we discussed, we’ll each pay a third.” We were shocked but agreed that we would do three times the work and he would have a fabulous web presence.

It took me a few years to sort this out, but after Mike died, it hit me. He was a very shrewd accountant in the most prestigious firm in our city. He knew exactly what he was doing. We were young and new in business and he extended a hand to help us grow our business. It was our first real break and thrust us wonderfully into the world of business.

So what’s my point? My point is this. Our relationship with MacGillivray because of Mike, was always one of trust. There never was, and even today there is no ‘dog-eat-dog’ feelings about business. Quite honestly, it set the tone for who we would become as The Dunham Group Inc.

We would much rather work in an environment of trust than suspicion. The energy wasted on thinking that others are “out to get you” is simply not worth it to us.

It’s been a number of years now, and I’m still happy to sit on the side of treating our clients and suppliers with trust and dignity. I can actually sleep at night!

Chris, I liked your article, I certainly would do business with you. Its a great article. You come across as honest, kind and trustworthy - just thought I would give you my two cents worth. Lots of love.

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