A while ago, a complaint appeared on the Sellerdeck customer forum about a third party who was spamming our customers using somewhat dubious methods. We got in touch with the offending party and they were totally dismissive: "All's fair in love and war" seemed to be their attitude.
A few days later, the tone had totally changed. When anyone searched for their company name on Google, the first result returned was the thread on our customer forum. And it wasn't good for them that every mention was a howling complaint. Swallowing larger chunks of humble pie than I had ever seen before, they promised to reform their ways and begged us to remove the comments about them. It was hard not to feel smug.
But the point of this is not the humbling of one company, it's that things have changed. It is now much harder to be a bad boy (or girl) and get away with it. In fact, with Twitter, Facebook, review sites and online forums, you can guarantee that your dirty washing will be aired within minutes. Taking an ethical approach to all aspects of business has never made more sense.
So here are my six top tips of some of the things to do and not to do to if you want to avoid being branded a "business bandit".
A few years ago you could start a cosy little business and pretty much run it the same way for years while making a reasonable living. Today, that's all changed.
People search and buy on the web, Tesco tracks your every move through its loyalty card and the younger generation is never far away from Facebook. Even my 98 year old father uses his mobile regularly. Any business which has ignored these changes is likely to be struggling.
I was reading some research recently which indicated that 60 per cent of Online Retailers do not know if they are currently PCI DSS compliant.
So I thought it was worth explaining why PCI DSS is important and how you can achieve compliance, and highlighting this and some of the other security measures provided with Sellerdeck Payments.
It seems to always be true that the only time that it's easy to raise finance for a start-up is when you no longer need it. That's certainly been my experience.
Over the years, I've raised money from family and friends, personal savings, government grants, business angels, venture capitalists and going public on the stock market. I've only ever once sought a loan from my bank and been offered it, but I turned it down.
I've also been an investor in a number of companies, with good and bad results. Here are a few thoughts that result from my experience on the whole process of raising money…
I quite enjoy the programmes "Grumpy Old Men" and "Grumpy Old Women". Having turned fifty, I can identify and laugh at the things that they say. But although much of it is tongue-in-cheek, I don't really want to be like that myself.
In fact, many of us have a tendency to have a good rant with colleagues, suppliers or customers, but we should stop and think before doing so.