Building a business means facing all kinds of ethical decisions. Should you skip a creditor's bill in a cash flow crisis? Help an alcoholic employee get on the wagon? Stretch the truth to win an important client? There are rarely clear-cut answers, and following your conscience can often have unfavorable consequences for your business.

One of the best ways to deal with the complex decisions you make is to learn from those who have been there before you. That's why we've gathered our best articles about ethics and business -- everything from the dilemmas of everyday employee management to making ethics part of your company mission. As you'll see, ethics and profits don't have to be mutually exclusive.

Finances and Fudging the Truth

Inc. 500 CEOs: Posturing vs. Deception (True Lies)
During their start-up days, many Inc. 500 CEOs tell half-truths to win over customers, while others tell outright lies. Here's a look at the ethical difference between posturing and overt deception.
A Strategic Misalliance
What happens when the ideal partnership turns into a potential ethical nightmare?
Brother, Can You Spare 30 Cents on the Dollar?
When your company goes broke, should you pay people back -- even if bankruptcy laws could protect you?
Always a Payroll to Meet
One entrepreneur faced with a cash flow crisis must choose between paying a creditor and paying his employees.
Can you grow a small, bootstrapped company into a success without lying?
Ethics in Business mentor Jeffrey L. Seglin says there's a definite difference between lying and posturing when it comes to growing your business.
The Politics of Overbilling: Not a Bang, Just a Whimper
How would you deal with a vendor who intentionally overbilled you? "Larry" tried to do the ethical thing, with surprising results.

Managing People, Managing Your Conscience

Should I try to get around a payment policy I find discriminatory?
Misrepresenting himself may be the only way an independent consultant can get fair compensation for his services. But is it ethical? Ethics in Business mentor Jeff Seglin responds.
Company Philosophy
Basic principles should be the underlying and overriding component of a company's system of management.
The Savior Complex
As a CEO, you instinctively want to help workers whose personal problems are interfering with their job performance. But what makes you so sure you can help?
When Employees Own the Company: Ethics Earns Big Profits for London-Based Ad Agency
Who says that putting ethics before business doesn't pay? An ad agency honored for its ethics grew its billings from $35 million in 1995 to $200 million in 1999.
I would like to strike out on my own. What about the noncompete agreement I signed?
Ethics in Business mentor Jeffrey L. Seglin responds to a reader's question about noncompete agreements.

Preventing "Business Ethics" from Becoming an Oxymoron: Examples and Advice

Business Ethics: Sample Policies
Thinking of creating an ethics policy for your business? Here's what three companies have done.
10 Principles to Evaluate a Company's Values
Adhering to these principles will help your company continually change for the better in every aspect -- from internal operations to the global community.
Grist: The New Lust for Integrity
Ethical accountability now shapes the way companies are judged and valued. This isn't ethics as ornament, as the accessory of the moment. It is a lasting change.
Smoke and Mirrors
Where do you draw the line between perception and deception?
The Importance of Being Ethical
The Global Business Responsibility Resource Center argues that a good ethics policy is good business.
Leading the Way to Fairer Trade Practices
It's rare that a company's central mission is to improve the quality of life of its suppliers. That's why fair-trade cooperative Equal Exchange has been recognized with a 1999 Business Ethics award.
Do the Right Thing -- or Else
New federal ethics rules apply to all companies, regardless of size.