Doing business with integrity

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I’ve had this post brewing in my head for quite some time. It’s one of those hard to write posts where you say things that others don’t for fear of being judged or fear of rejection, but today I’m going to say the hard stuff.

In my 7 years of business I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing clients. I’ve also had the not so pleasant experience of working with some difficult clients. I’ve also had the privilege of working with other amazing designers. And I’ve had the not so pleasant experience of working with designers that aren’t operating a business with integrity.

I’ve spent thousands of dollars on Cease & Desist letters to other businesses that have taken “inspiration” to a whole new level. And then I’ve also sent more emails than I can count to politely ask them to take whatever is in question down. It’s the worst part of this business that I’m in but you know what.. I keep doing it because the one negative person can’t override the thousands I’ve helped!

If you were to ask me “What would you say are the keys to your success?!”. I’d answer with these two things:

  1. I run my business with integrity
  2. I offer over the top customer service

I can guarantee you, I wouldn’t have built a highly successful business without these two principles in my business.  And I’m a firm believer that you can’t be truly successful without them.

When you offer over the top customer service, this pleases your clients and keeps them coming back.  We all know that repeat business is key.  It also gets them talking and then their friends want to buy products from you because they already know they are going to get the best customer service.  This whole process keeps going and going and business continues to blossom.  Offer sub-par customer service, and you’ll see that your business won’t go anywhere very fast.  This is all a pretty basic principle and something super easy to do!  Doing business with integrity is another thing all together.

Doing business with integrity is one of the key principles I fail to see on a daily basis.  So I’d like to give you some examples of what doing business with integrity is like:

Doing business with integrity says…

You purchase the font, no matter the price, instead of downloading a free copy that you can likely find on the internet somewhere.  Why?  Because the creator of that font put a lot of time, energy, and creativity into that font and they deserve to be compensated for that if you’re going to use and enjoy their font.

Doing business with integrity says…

When you purchase a theme from a designer, you don’t take that theme, make a few customizations to it, then resell the same theme for the same price.  Why? Because the designer of that theme spent a LOT of time meticulously coding and planning out the format of that theme to be different from anything else on the market.  So to take that and resell as your own is dishonesty.  No other way to say that.  Need an example:

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Doing business with integrity says…

Instead of saving images through our demo sites and using those images for yourself, you actually purchase your OWN license to those images.  Why? Because the photographer who took those images spent a lot of money on props for that image, spent a lot of time creating the image, and used her God-given creative gift to style the shot to be top of the line.  And because of all that, she deserves to be compensated.  Doing the latter is stealing.  Period.

Doing business with integrity says…

When you word catchy phrases on your site to make them sound good they are honest and not deceiving.  If you can read a statement and it’s read one way but means another… this is called being dishonest.  For instance… “See why thousands of people choose our themes.” You’ll read this thinking we’ve helped thousands- this means more than 2000.  If I had only served 1000 customers I wouldn’t have worded it that way.  Use your words wisely and don’t mislead your customers.

Doing business with integrity says…

You write your own copy on your about page instead of copying and pasting that of another person and modifying it to fit your needs.  You have your own story to tell and your own services to offer.  You’re one of a kind and your customers want to know YOU!  I promise you, when you’re real and honest in your writing, your customers will connect with it and want to support your business.  Here is a comment someone left me the other day on Instagram as a perfect example of your clients connecting with your own personal words:

This is lovely.  I don’t remember why I started following you, but I was just reading your about section on your page and I just want to hug you. I absolutely adore what you’re doing and I can’t wait to learn more. Maybe it’s your love of Gilmore Girls and Jesus (not necessarily in that order) 😉 @sincerelysheri

Doing business with integrity says…

You create your own unique tagline for your business instead of using one from another person’s business.  Example:

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Doing business with integrity says…

When you work with a designer for your website, you’re respectful of their time and not take them for granted.  Remember, you’ve hired them for their skill and expertise, and once they begin feeling taken advantage of, the outcome of your site won’t be the best they could have produced.

Doing business with integrity says…

If a friend asks for a copy of a theme, images, font, etc. you kindly ask them to purchase a copy for themselves for all the reasons mentioned above.

Doing business with integrity says…

When you ask for a refund on a digital product, and the refund is honored, you delete the files because you no longer own a license for the product. Continuing to use the product is called dishonesty.

Truthfully, this list could go on and on, but it’s my hope that after these examples it’s clear on what is operating a business with integrity and what isn’t. This post isn’t meant to bash any one person, but understand that I deal with issues such as all of the above on a daily basis.  And when my heart is passionate about helping other women build successful brands and businesses, this INCLUDES the ones that have failed, up to this point, to operate a business with integrity. I pray for these people every day and that the Lord will gives them eyes to see and wisdom that will truly take their business to a successful place.

All this said, I’ll take a moment to say I haven’t always been perfect.  I’ve gotten an email before about a color scheme being too similar and in that specific case it was an error on my part for not properly filing away a screenshot and documenting it’s source. I was quick to respond, and immediately changed the color scheme.  Folks… that’s operating a business with integrity as well.  Admitting where you’ve wronged, and immediately fix the issue.  Whether that other person believes me or not doesn’t matter.. what matters is that MY heart is in the right place and I’m operating my business and my heart with integrity.

Now go and do your business with integrity!

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17 Comments

  1. Love this, Lauren! I also haven’t been perfect but as time has gone on and I have rewritten my policies and learned to remind my clients on my preferred and best practices, it helps to keep both of us on track. A blogger who learns as early on in their blogging as the design process is more likely to also have integrity when writing their content. We can learn from one another and be inspired, but there are lines! Thanks for writing this 🙂

  2. I discovered you 3 or so years ago and remember the support folks at Genesis (or perhaps WordPress) saying you were great to work with. And they were right then, and now!

    I did extreme modifications to your Craftiness theme for my blog, but if you check at the bottom, the origin of the theme still is credited to you.

    I’ll be sharing to this post via my social networks because so many people want to add their “Amen, Sister!” to it. Unfortunately, they’re not the ones that really need to read it, are they?

  3. I love this post! I also love your themes! I make it a point to let me customers know that I cannot copy websites. Inspiration is one thing, a replicate is another. I was actually shocked at your second example about creating a tagline. I mean, come on- to use your theme and directly copy you mobile responsive image- yuck!

  4. So beautifully and graciously put …. we need more like you!

    Wouldn’t it be lovely if you could spend more time creating your beautiful work and less time on the imitators.

    Your honesty and integrity shine through your work

  5. I love your themes, I have bought one for myself and have bought one on behalf of someone else. At Uni we were taught about copyright and how to protect ourselves, this protection naturally extends to our designer colleagues. You need to treat others as you would expect to be treated yourself. Unfortunately others seem to have low expectations.

  6. Hear hear. I am not a designer but I understand the effort you all put in to your work and I appreciate it. I am the person who will pay the $2 for an app on my phone cause some one took the time to make it.

    I see it all the time when looking through the internet, Etsy etc. Blatant rip off’s.

    Keep up the good work.

    Steff

  7. Well Said! No matter how hard it is to build up a business, it’s a million times harder if you can’t hold your head up and be honest.

  8. OH my, this is the first time I have commented on a blog post. I’m more of creeper reader than a commenter 🙂 With that being said I was researching ways to sell WordPress sites that are customized by me through unique branding techniques, typography and color schemes. However the design is outsourced and credit thus given to the designer of theme as well as separate license purchased per client . I am absolutely floored at what I just read and what my eyes just witnessed after visiting the website of the person selling the themes. I cant believe their isn’t any legal action you can pursue. Trust me when I say business owners command( very different from demand) respect of their customers through high integrity and morally sound practices. The owner of that website doesn’t even have the brain capacity to compose her own footer link. She had to copy VERBATIM another companies . We live in a scary world not because I don’t think people would steal and cheat, but the fact that she doesn’t even make the slightest effort to conceal it is appalling.

  9. You’ve perfectly outlined so much of what’s been on my mind. Integrity is so often overlooked. It’s not something to be bought or achieved by the end of your life. It’s a process, it follows every decision we make day in, day out. Thanks for being a business owner with integrity 🙂

  10. Lovely post. I’ve always believed in doing business with integrity. And quite honestly recently I had someone recommended to me. I used them for a small emergency fix on my website. Then when I needed something bigger I reached out and paid the money up front as requested. No problems the first time. The second time they started to do the work and then didn’t finish and never got back to me about refunding funds or finishing the work. After countless emails I gave up trying to collect and am calling it a loss. No matter what side your on doing business honestly, with kindness and clear communication is important.

  11. Very inspirational post. Nicely said. I totally agree with you. I do follow the same principal. What comes around goes around

  12. Hi Lauren,
    I wanted to write you a quick note to let you know that your beautiful website and themes (and this blog post!) have gained you another follower/customer! 🙂
    I have finally made the decision to create the blog I’ve been dreaming about for a long time, and I couldn’t be happier coming across your site. Your collection of themes is exactly what I was hoping to find in my search for a creative jump start. It appears we have very similar style, which is going to make it hard for me to choose just one to start with!
    After reading this blog post in particular, I knew yours is the company I want to support, not only because of the fantastic themes you offer, but because of your superstar customer service and INTEGRITY.
    I have some experience in graphic design and code, but will no doubt be utilizing your resources and support ticket system when needed. Thank you for making it easy for me create my blog, and for inspiring other women to achieve their dreams. Best of luck! 🙂

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