The atmosphere surrounding entrepreneurs and their start-ups can provide a dizzying rush. The opportunities to create a company, be your own boss, make a dramatic impact on business, establish an entrepreneurial culture that will be adopted by others, and possibly become rich in the process certainly all appeal to our human nature. Still, the entrepreneurial lifestyle is challenging, and the success rate for start-ups is exceptionally low. Interpersonal conflicts are prevalent in start-up environments, and entrepreneurs who seek to stay true to their vision and ethical values face a difficult road. At many points, start-up founders have to choose how they most wish to be remembered: for the sake of their business success alone or also for the ethical fashion in which they attained that success and the humane culture they have embedded in their new firm. Sometimes these are mutually exclusive goals, but the most ethical entrepreneurs do their best to ensure that both objectives mesh for themselves and their firms. This lies at the heart of any definition of ethical leadership.
The Internet and social media present new canvasses for marketing that possess great power and for which rules and ethical norms are being developed. Psychological appeals and subliminal messaging present their own ethical issues. Discerning consumers currently must rely on their own sensibility to ferret out factual claims for advertised products and bear the burden of shielding those under their charge from the worst manipulative effects of marketing.
Business owners and individuals are willing to pay insurance premiums in the hope that they will never have to be file a claim for reimbursement on their policy. Because the insurance industry profits only when claims are few and small, there may be a bigger role for government to play in managing disaster insurance through a private/public partnership, such as FEMA currently does to provide flood insurance and the California Earthquake Authority does where potentially disastrous earthquakes may occur. Ethical issues such whether to expand the use of public tax revenues to subsidize these partnerships need to be resolved.
The United States, unlike countries in Europe, has little tradition of merging the efforts of the state or federal government with that of private employers in the provision of health care. Although the quality of U.S. health care has rarely been challenged, its limited accessibility has posed ethical quandaries for business because many employees necessarily look to their employers for this benefit. The 2010 Affordable Care Act is an ambitious effort to meet the need for health care for all. Individual states have considered, and sometimes enacted, programs of their own to supply universal health care.