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Breaking Taboos: 3 Business Practices Owners Dismiss, But Shouldn't

Challenging norms and exploring unconventional strategies is both scary and crucial for business longevity. As the saying goes, "What got us here won't get us there." Stagnation is the enemy of progress, and clinging to outdated practices can spell doom for businesses in today's rapidly evolving landscape.

Standing still is not an option. While it may feel safe to stick to the status quo, the reality is that the world is changing faster than ever before. Businesses that are experiencing the most consistent growth today are those daring to question established norms and try new approaches. Whether it's embracing emerging technologies, rethinking traditional business models, or challenging industry standards, innovation is the key to survival.

Below are the three most impactful practices that also receive the most pushback from older generations of entrepreneurs. If you let go of preset expectations and keep an open mind when implementing change within your business, there will be little in the way of creating a legacy for your company.


Let's talk about ethics in business – or rather, the lack thereof. For years, it's been the norm to prioritize profits over people, to pinch pennies when it comes to employee wages, and turn a blind eye to ethical sourcing practices. Why? Well, because it was considered good business. Paying your employees above market standards? That's just throwing money away, right? Wrong.

Sure, there are arguments against it – it's expensive, it takes resources, yada yada. But here's the thing: the benefits far outweigh the costs. Just look at companies like Costco and Starbucks. They've made it a priority to pay their employees fair wages, and guess what? It's paid off big time. Their employees are happier, more motivated, and more loyal – which translates to better customer service and higher profits. Plus, they've built a reputation as ethical employers, attracting top talent and earning the loyalty of customers who care about fair labor practices. A Players know what they are worth, and will end up with employers who see what they do too.

But it's not just about paying your employees well. It's about ethical sourcing, reducing waste, and promoting sustainability across the board. Take a cue from companies like Patagonia and Ben & Jerry's. They've made it their mission to do business ethically, from sourcing organic ingredients to minimizing their environmental footprint. And you know what? Consumers love it. They're willing to pay a premium for products that align with their values, which means higher profits for ethical companies.

"People don't buy what you do, they buy why you do it."

So, what can everyday businesses do to follow suit? Start by paying your employees fair wages – it's a simple yet powerful way to show that you value their hard work. Look for opportunities to source ethically and reduce waste, whether by buying sustainable office supplies or partnering with eco-friendly vendors. And above all, be transparent about your practices – consumers and employees alike appreciate honesty and integrity.

In the end, it's not just about doing what's right – it's also about doing what's smart for your business. By embracing ethical business practices, you can attract top talent, earn customer loyalty, and build a more sustainable future for your business.

Stakeholder-Centric Decision Making

Next, let's talk about stakeholder-centric decision-making. You know, where everyone's interests – from employees and customers to suppliers and the community – are front and center. But hold up, before we start singing Kumbaya, let's address the skeptics.

Some folks argue that having too many cooks in the decision-making kitchen can lead to chaos. I mean, who's got time for endless meetings and conflicting opinions, right? And let's not forget about the logistical nightmare of trying to coordinate input from every stakeholder.

But here's the thing – there's a method to the madness. When you systematically bring all voices to the table, you're not just making decisions blindly. You're shining a spotlight on potential problems that leadership might be blissfully unaware of. After all, who knows the ins and outs of your business better than the folks on the front lines?

Not only are your team members potentially better equipped than anyone else in your business, including its owner, to identify redundancies, explore technological efficiencies, and be the key to transformational growth. Team sentiment and culture are a direct reflection of customer experience, so showing your team members that their voices are heard will have a domino effect on how your clients are treated.

On that note, customer feedback is equally important. Esteban Kolsky, CEO of ThinkJar and former Gartner analyst, conducted a customer experience survey and uncovered a gem: "Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain. The rest churn." Translation? Silence isn't always golden – it could mean your customers are quietly slipping away, and you didn't even know it.

By prioritizing the interests of all stakeholders, you're not just chasing short-term profits – you're building a foundation for long-term success and sustainability. Plus, when employees, customers, and the community feel valued and heard, they're more likely to stick around and support your business through thick and thin.

So, while stakeholder-centric decision-making might require a bit more legwork upfront, the payoff is well worth it. By bringing diverse perspectives to the table and listening to the voices that matter most, you're not just making better decisions – you're building a stronger, more resilient business for the future. And hey, that's something we can all get behind.

Transparency and Accountability

Let's get real about transparency in operations – it's not all rainbows and sunshine. Leaders and employees alike can have some serious beef with the whole transparency thing. One big reason? Fear of micromanagement. Some folks think transparency is just another way for leaders to peek over their shoulders and nitpick every little thing they do. But here's the truth: transparency is actually the antidote to micromanagement. By putting all the cards on the table and giving everyone access to the same information, leaders can empower their teams to take ownership and accountability for their work.

Conversations will quickly go from, "Tell me what you've been up to," to, "It looks like our conversion percentage was down last week, what's your plan to turn that around?"

I get it though – change is hard. Introducing public dashboards and KPIs can send some folks straight into shadow mode, clinging to secrecy like a security blanket. But here's the thing: do we really want team members who aren't comfortable being transparent about what they're doing day to day? Sure, they might be high performers, but if they're not willing to use data to grow and improve, what will they cost your company in the future? Are their sentiments affecting growth-minded employees?

Another potential barrier is the logistical nightmare of tracking everything. Sure, setting up a few dashboards might sound like a beast of a project, but think of the payoff. With increased tracking, every decision becomes more effective, and efforts are laser-focused on the areas that matter most. It's like finally getting a GPS for your business – no more wandering around looking for answers, just clear direction and action.

But enough with the doom and gloom – let's talk benefits. Transparency isn't just a buzzword – it's a game-changer in today's data-driven world. From building trust with stakeholders to driving growth and loyalty, transparent operations can set a business apart in the market. Just look at companies like Buffer and HubSpot. They've made transparency a core value, sharing everything from financials to employee salaries with the world. And you know what? It's paid off big time, earning them the trust and loyalty of customers and employees alike.

Our advice for any business wanting to survive the next 5-10 years in these markets is to embrace transparency, warts and all. Sure, it might be messy at times, but the rewards far outweigh the risks. In a world where data is king and modern business practices are the norm, transparency isn't just a nice-to-have anymore.


By Maya Isharani


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