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Legal Gray Areas in Business

Ethical dilemmas are a part of society. However, as technology exceeds legislation, more and more businesses are stumbling upon legal “Gray Areas”.

“The problem of law is that law is inherently finite; it cannot cover every possible instance that might arise without fail, simply because it is impossible to set the law down such that every possible instance will be covered,” –

There is an entire subset of businesses that exist only because the law has not caught up with them. Moreover, as long as there is a service or product that people want and can make a profit, there will be businesses that push the envelope of legal behavior to sell it.

Although products and services can be regulated, ethical behavior cannot. Businesses are built with a fundamental goal to turn a profit. However, greed and competition can typically push ethical people into situations where instead of pushing the limits they cross the line.

On a daily basis, we as entrepreneurs are confronted with a broad range of ethical dilemmas. With so much pressure to succeed in business and make profits, business owners are faced with the challenge of having to make choices that can blur their ethics resulting in good people doing bad things.

What should we do?

Being an entrepreneur does not excuse illegal or unethical behavior. However, complying too strictly with our ever-expanding legal system can handicap a small business’ growth and success.

“Gray Areas” can sometimes be an entrepreneur’s best friend. “Gray Areas” mean that you maybe able to do something and get away with it for a while until so many other people are doing it that legislatures and regulatory bodies feel the need to develop regulations and rules for that behavior. “Gray Areas” mean there may be opportunities for a little business to get a leg up on bigger competitors, who will be advised by their lawyers that the opportunity is “too risky”.

However, to have growing enterprise while maintaining a business environment with a moral compass, you should always:

  1. Check with a lawyer to make sure there is no apparent authority saying you cannot do what you want to do.
  2. Understand that if you proceed in this “Gray Area” there’s a risk that somebody who does not like what you are doing will try to shut you down. So, be extremely cautious and take it one step at a time.
  3. Make sure your business’ cultures fosters the strengthening of people’s moral compasses. Have open and trustworthy leadership that allows discussions of the “Gray Areas” most people encounter in business and how they come about.

For the survival of our business systems, entrepreneurs must be made aware of the psychology of their decisions to win. It is thanks to awareness, vision and imagination that responsible leaders will be able to take actions conducive to a culture that respects people and contributes to the common good.

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Dana is a Business Growth and Development Consultant and the Founder of Gray Capital Solutions. Through Gray Capital Solutions, Dana provides consulting, strategy and coaching to help small businesses grow. You can learn more by exploring or follow @graycapsolns.

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