Module 1: Code of Conduct
THIS MODULE WILL TAKE AN ESTIMATED 30-60 MINUTES TO COMPLETE. PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU CANNOT SAVE YOUR PROGRESS AND RETURN TO IT AT A LATER TIME – IT MUST BE COMPLETED IN ONE SITTING.
To understand and comply with the Colorado Small Business Development Center’s (CSBDC) Code of Conduct, including the Articles of Professional Conduct, Conflict of Interest Policy and Confidentiality Agreement and any additional requirements of the host institution.
You may be assigned to work with a Certified Business Consultant (Mentor) to complete this module. Upon completion, the Center Director will ensure that you have accomplished the assigned tasks by signing the Training Checklist.
The Colorado Small Business Development Center Network (CSBDC), a governmental agency, is organized to provide education, consulting and referral services to owners of small businesses in Colorado. To this end, the CSBDC promotes high standards of conduct, Communicates those standards to the public, and Accredits Business Consultants of demonstrated competence who have agreed to uphold the CSBDC\’s standards as a continuing condition of individual certification. Those accredited become a \”Certified Business Consultant\” (CBC).
The Code of Conduct requires that CBCs conduct themselves with a self-discipline that is above the requirements of law. It assures the public that CBCs will maintain a high level of professionalism and ethics, and requires that CBCs accept an obligation to conduct themselves in a way that upholds the principles of the Code of Conduct.
The CSBDC enforces the Code of Conduct by receiving and investigating all complaints of violations and by taking disciplinary action, including revocation of certifications, against any individual if that person is found guilty of a code violation and more specifically, that section of CSBDC Code of Conduct titled Articles of Professional Behavior.
It is respect for the profession that motivates CBCs to maintain the highest possible professional and ethical conduct.
- A client: a business, individual or legal entity with which the SBDC has entered into a contract to provide any or all the SBDC\’s available services
- Small Business Development Center services-include, but are not limited to, SBDC-related consulting, research of materials for a client, referrals to other agencies, provision of printed copies or digital media information, or other services that the Small Business Development Center may commonly and routinely perform for its Clients
- Agency of the Small Business Development Center- any person currently employed by or on behalf of the SBDC for consulting, training or other services; may include graduate and student assistants, university faculty and staff, volunteers, and paid consultants. Agents may be paid by the host institution or other agency, but if their activity is to further SBDC objectives, they are considered agents of the SBDC. An intern being paid by a small business, directly or indirectly, as part of an internship program, is not considered an Agent.
- Gift-real property or tangible or intangible property of material value, which is provided directly or in trust for the benefit of the recipient
The reliance of Clients on the advice given by CSBDC Certified Business Consultants imposes on the profession an obligation to maintain high standards of integrity and competence. Therefore, CBCs have basic responsibilities to:
- Understanding client needs: CBCs will confer with new Clients in sufficient detail and gather enough facts to gain an understanding of the perceived problem, the objectives to be achieved, the scope of assistance needed and the possible benefits that may accrue to the Client
- Maintain Impartiality: CBCs will ensure that advice given to Clients is based on impartial consideration of all pertinent facts
- Provide Sound Recommendations: CBCs will ensure that recommendations and suggestions are realistic and practical, clearly understood by the Clients and capable of being implemented by the Client
- Maintain the Quality of Information: CBCs will demonstrate a commitment to the quality of their advice, assistance and resulting products through sufficient planning, reviews and controls
- Share Knowledge: CBCs recognize their responsibility to the profession to share with their colleagues the general body of knowledge and approaches they use in serving Clients
- Actively Participate in Self-Development: CBCs must recognize their responsibility to the public interest and to their own professional development by contributing to the understanding of better ways to manage small businesses. This contribution responsibility may be through the development and dissemination of current information to peers as well as the public. It may also be through actively participating in educational opportunities that will enhance their professional skills.
- Dress Appropriately: CBCs will dress in attire appropriate to the Client’s and individual Host Institution’s needs
- Meet Commitments: CBCs will make every effort to meet all appointments and commitments for assistance made to Clients in a timely manner
Further, in recognition of the public interest as well as their obligation to the profession, CBCs must agree in writing to comply with the following Articles of Professional Behavior:
- Professional Behavior: CBCs will maintain a wholly professional behavior and attitude toward those they serve, including other members of the CSBDC, Clients and the public at large. By following the Articles of Professional Behavior, they will strive to avoid improprieties and the appearance of improprieties in their professional behavior.
- Private Engagement: CBCs will not solicit the private engagement of their services by a Client at any time during the term of the Client’s relationship with the CBC or the CSBDC. Furthermore, CBCs will not solicit or accept or give the appearance thereof, any Gift, loan, reward, favor, promise of future employment, compensation or other monetary remuneration for consulting-related services provided to a Client.
- Client Confidentiality: CBCs will hold as strictly confidential the identity of a Client, as well as all information concerning the affairs of a Client that is gathered during the course of their professional engagement, unless the Client has agreed to the release of such information for public use.
- Client and Other Information: CBCs will not provide any client with information, data, procedures, materials or techniques that previous Clients have developed but not released for public use, without first obtaining proper authorization from the previous Client. CBCs will not release information about any Client’s relationship with the SBDC, nor any information about the business or personal matters of any Client to any person or agency outside the CSBDC Network without permission of the Client. CBCs will not knowingly, without permission, use copyrighted material, proprietary data, procedures, materials, or techniques that others have developed but have not released for public use.
- Conflict of Interest: CBCs will not engage in any activity in which regard for private interest leads to or has the potential to lead to a disregard for the needs or the rights of Clients. CBCs will not take personal, financial or other advantage of a material or information provided by a Client. CBCs will not invest monies, personal services or property in the business of a current Client. CBCs will not accept any reward, fees, commissions, Gifts or other favors from individuals or organizations. CBCs will not recommend the purchase of goods and/or services to a Client from a firm or individual in which the CBC or Agent has a material or financial interest. Further, CBCs may refer Clients to firms or individuals who provide professional services such as attorneys, accountants, insurance agents, bookkeepers, etc., only so long as the referral includes the name of three or more firms or individuals, and there is no private interest or the appearance of private interest between the CBC and any of the firms or individuals being referred.
- Professional Standards: CBCs will continuously strive to advance and protect the professional standards of the CSBDC.
- Supporting the CSBDC Code of Conduct: CBCs will support the CSBDC Code of Conduct by reporting all rule violations to the Center Director.
- Outside Influences: CBCs will inform their Clients immediately of any special relationships, circumstances or interests that might influence, or give the appearance of influencing, their judgment or impair their objectivity. The CBC will offer to withdraw from the Client relationship and refer the Client to another CBC whenever this occurs.
The purpose of these procedures are to provide a mechanism for determining the merits of complaints against CBCs in a fair and impartial hearing and to protect the rights and interests of Clients and the public in their dealings with the CBCs of the CSBDC.
- Any person may file a charge of misconduct against a CSBDC CBC. Misconduct is a violation of the Articles of Professional Behavior. The charge may be formal or informal.
- A formal change is a written and signed statement of the facts alleged, with substantiating evidence to the Center Director. The Center Director will transmit this information to the State Director who will forward it to the host institution and to the accused CBC. After investigating, the host institution will decide whether to dismiss the charge or to refer it to the State Director and Center Director for hearing and action according to the individual host institution’s policy.
Case 1Read the following case and answer the questions below.
At 8:00 sharp on Monday morning, the Center’s phone begins to ring, signaling the beginning of another busy week at the SBDC. As you sip your coffee, you overhear the administrative assistant beginning to have a hard time accommodating the caller. It sounds as if the caller is refusing to listen to your administrative assistant’s explanations. Since there is not any other Business Consultants in yet who can take the ‘problem caller’ off the administrative assistant’s hands, you put your coffee down and signal to her to transfer the call to you.
The Client is already angry because the administrative assistant asked him what kind of help he needed instead of putting him through to you right away. He claims the president of the host institution is his best friend, so even though you doubt it, you decide to handle him with care.
His name is John Smith and he claims to have invented a device that will conserve the energy required to run various kinds of machinery and wants to meet with you right away. He knows he can sell it to the government and to Japan and Germany. When he went to see his banker she made him very angry because she told him the bank required a business plan. Now he wants to talk to you about this “business plan thing.” Because of his apparent tendency to anger easily, you set an appointment for tomorrow.
When Mr. Smith comes in for his appointment you ask for more information about his invention you find you are having a hard time understanding his ideas as he seems to be talking in circles and does not explain himself well. However, you soon become impressed with the product. While you are a generalist and do not often work with inventors, you feel that the product has real potential, seems it could be easily marketed, and can probably be patented.
You explain the need for a business plan. Unfortunately, when you begin to explain how to write the plan, it becomes apparent that Mr. Smith is losing interest. He says that he is too busy, he is not good at writing, and he does not explain things well on paper. He states that since you know so much about these things, it would be easier for everyone if you wrote it. You explain that as the business owner, it is very important that he be the author of the plan. He then gives you a wink and says that he is willing to pay quite well for you to write it for him.