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Building a business from the ground up in Virginia requires people to identify industry-specific strategies to boost their competitive edge, develop a well-rounded team of organizational professionals and establish a reputation that customers respect. One foundational piece that can help companies work toward achieving each of these goals is creating an environment where respect, honesty and ethics are at the core.

To begin with, organizational leaders should prioritize and exemplify an effort to practice integrity in all of their business associations. As they slowly bring in other people and build their team of professionals, they should be clear in establishing their expectations for responsible behavior that is based on ethical practices. According to GE Reports, one invaluable resource that businesses should implement from the start is a hotline where people with concerns about ethical matters can voice their feelings without fear of retribution or retaliation.

Companies that empower their employees to be forthright in sharing helpful information and refraining from being secretive or participating in criminal conduct from a business perspective, is to encourage transparency. Organizations that implement protocols from the beginning of their creation that make secretive information sharing difficult and inconvenient can better circumvent suspicious behavior before it becomes a danger to the company, its people and its assets.

American Express recommends that transparency be something a company is striving for as a team by encouraging employees to think of solutions to problems and then taking their suggestions and implementing them accordingly. Leaders who communicate effectively and are accessible to employees can also make a considerable difference in encouraging their employees to be transparent and willing to share their concerns.