Over the last few years, we've been working with small to medium enterprises, in addition to our corporate work. Reflecting on our work, several things came to mind. Today I want to share some views on one "Quick and dirty" solution that are more prevalent in conversations with entrepreneurs, business owners and managers within SME.

"Hats off to the entrepreneurial spirit running into areas where angels fear to tread,"

is my first comment. Seeing opportunity that could translate into money is all that counts. Or is this true?

  • How sustainable are these ideas?
  • What does this say and do to your repeat business?
  • Do business ethics play a role?
  • What are the associated risks?

Over the last few years, I've been involved with prospective clients in SME, just requiring a "quick and dirty" to solve their problems... It took years to get into that state and some think that a "quick and dirty" will fix that — Really...?

Managers and owners are sometimes ill-informed, just wanting to spend the minimum on fixing problems with the greatest return... However, when they initially decided on actions it was also driven by the business notion of least input, maximum return depending on the level of risk. Management practices at times backfire, requiring them to spend additional money on the same issue.

  • One wonders is it not a case that, if they have done justice initially, they would have been further down the line?
  • What is the opportunity cost of "quick and dirty" and opportunistic thinking?

Yet, there are benefits for allowing the entrepreneurial spirit to reign free!

Many service providers, like ourselves may be foremost offering professional services, operating under the guidance of various professional institutions. Ethics, responsible work and no harm to the public, form part of a work ethos. This may however clash with the "quick and dirty" approach that is everywhere.

Several entrepreneurs that we deal with, don't operate under any of these codes of good practices, have little respect for that and are keen to find the "quick and dirty" that translates into bucks.

It is so interesting to observe behaviour... Pop psychology is everywhere, so many people offer services and have become overnight experts, "gurus", offering "quick and dirty" solutions. One can only salute the entrepreneurial spirit, yet, one wonders about the users of these services...

  • How educated are users?
  • How important is it to do business with reputable and ethical suppliers?
  • Or is everyone on the run to make money in oblivion?
  • What happens when users are unhappy with service delivery, who protects them?
  • Where does this leave professional services, clients and responsible business practice within SMEs?

What is the impact of the "quick and dirty" on relationships amongst service providers, clients and potential clients and the industry as a whole?

A lack of trust creeps into relationships and destroys the reputation within the industry. Business relationships deteriorate at the cost of all. Undercutting occurs amongst service providers; business owners may take advantage of this... all in the name of good business. The ripple effect may even be visible within business, as values clash, and some employees may also see their job as a means to an end, rather than being committed to the business cause. Parties move into a fixed mindset rather than being active participants in an abundance economy.

What happens with the businesses embracing "quick and dirty" solution, as they grow and develop?

Embracing "quick and dirty" may have different meanings to different people. To some it talks about being creative, to others looking for short cuts, to others to make quick bucks, to others sifting through volumes and offering expensive services to a few. There may be other meaning as well.

The point is, irrespective of the meaning attached,

  • what does this say about the practices within that business?
  • Would one's business be able to grow and mature with this underlying mindset when the business is going through a growth phase where ethical conduct and responsible business becomes important?
  • Would the business survive this stage as it may experience internal conflict when the espoused business values contradict the real business values?

Maybe this is a non-issue, however, thinking about business ethics and professional conduct should be of importance to business owners, whether you find yourself in a SME or large corporation. We are all corporate citizens. The question is, do we all behave like that?

Written by: Elna Esterhuizen