You might be an entrepreneur if…you’ve wondered if there’s any way to rationalize picking up a tobacco company as a client.
There are many types of companies I will never work with, and a tobacco company is just one of them. You can add alcohol, gambling/gaming/lottery, and porn companies as those I would rather than face bankruptcy than do business with. Other organizations that are in a gray area where it would depend on the details include MLM (Xango no, Stampin’ Up yes), bizopp, and politicians (I’m bipartisan–I don’t like any of them).
But there are days when I wonder if there’s some way to justify it. After all, those people are going to smoke anyway, right? And if they don’t hire my firm they’ll just hire another, right? And let’s not forget the piles and piles of money tobacco companies have acquired over the dead bodies of their customers. Why shouldn’t I take advantage of it if I can get it? I’ve got mouths to feed here at MWI, after all.
One of my associates has similar opinions, and yet his company ended up doing work for a tobacco company. An independent sales person came to them and said he/she (I don’t know which it was, but to keep it simple let’s say it was a he) had a deal he was working on with a large company and were they interested. They said sure, but he couldn’t reveal who the company was until the deal was done, lest he get cut out as the middleman.
They went through the process, and had fully committed to the project and had even bought inventory and gone into production when they found out they were doing a deal for one of the large tobacco companies. At that point they were left in the quandary of keeping their word or refusing to do work for an industry they abhorred. What would you do? Oh, and to make the decision harder, they were going to make a ton of money on the deal.
If it were me, I think I’d stick to keeping my word. And then in the future I’d make sure I knew who I was going to do business with, and if an independent sales person wouldn’t tell me then I’d at least find out what the industry was or tell the person which industries I wouldn’t do work for.
Although now that I think about it, if it were a porn company I think I’d break my word. For some reason that just goes too far for me, whereas for some reason tobacco seems different. Maybe I’m still forumulating my moral code. But seriously, what would you do in my friend’s shoes, assuming you shared his moral stance on tobacco?