Here’s the Most Important Takeaway from the Trump ZTE Fiasco

ZTE who? What? Wait just a moment. There’s headlines all over and most Americans don’t know what to make of the situation. In fact, it’s a bit confusing since it deals with a very boring subject. But, it’s really not that difficult to understand. Ostensibly, it’s the result of bad business practices, and it’s causing real-world consequences for a very large company. At the most basic level, it delivers a great business lesson, which many entrepreneurs would otherwise avoid. It’s an uncomfortable topic but it’s also a never-ending threat — complying with the law.

The Trump, ZTE Fiasco in a Nutshell

Of course, very few business owners intentionally break the law. However, this doesn’t mean it’s not possible to accidentally cross the line. (In fact, it’s entirely possible to inadvertently make a mistake, only to realize it when it’s too late. After all, there are so many laws, it’s nearly impossible to always be in-the-know, all the time.) Basically, the Chinese company, ZTE, sold its products to Iran and North Korea. Now, what triggers the trouble is the fact those products contained American-made components.

Today’s business owners have a wide array of concerns, not the least of which is turning a profit in what can be a volatile economy. However, financial success is of little consequence if the government compels you to dissolve your company for failing to comply with legal requirements. —Intuit Quickbooks

The net result is a colossal fine of $1.19 billion. Yes, “billion, with a ‘B.'” That’s the cost of violating trade agreements and it’s one which will surely make every international company take notice. But, such a financial penalty will put ZTE out of business. That’s where the controversy comes into play.

What to Do if Your Business is Out of Compliance

Now, let’s look at the core lesson here — operating a business within the confines of the law. Sure, breaking the law is not something you set out to do. Although, this doesn’t mean it can’t happen. If it does, here are some helpful suggestions for how to deal with a compliance issue:

  • Don’t try to hide it or ignore it. Whatever you do, don’t attempt to hide it or ignore it. The problem won’t magically go away. It will only worsen and that’s much more damaging. Face it, apologize, ask for forgiveness, take responsibility and do so humbly.
  • Get sound legal advice, right away. If your business does break a law, it’s not necessarily the end of the world. Sure, it’s definitely unpleasant and uncomfortable. But, that means it’s time to tackle it head-on, as soon as possible. Speak with a lawyer, if necessary to learn about your options.
  • Openly address the situation carefully. Chances are excellent your team members will learn about it at some point. Do yourself a favor and address it pragmatically. Just like when you fire an employee, there will be questions and you have a duty to provide answers.
  • Learn from your mistake and move on. While it’s a bad experience, that doesn’t mean it’s worthless. Take the opportunity to learn from your mistake and then put it behind you.

Have you ever experienced violating a code or law? What other advice would you offer about learning and getting past the experience? Please share your thoughts by commenting!

Interested in learning more about business? Then just visit Waters Business Consulting Group.

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