Why Establish Core Values?
Because your Core Values is where you decide what is most important to you in HOW you do business. When core values are successfully integrated into an organization, they set the foundation for the culture — something hugely important to employees today — as well as how you’ll run your business. It helps you, as a business owner, decide and set the climate of your workplace and help determine how success is defined and measured.
It’s just as important for you as a small business owner to establish core values as it is for a Fortune 50 or 500 company. Core values:
- Inform decision making
- How you interact with clients/customers
- Create tactics
- Hiring & firing policies, and more …
Defining Your Business Core Values
I always tell my clients to start with their personal values. Start listing out what is important to you as an individual. Think about the people you enjoy being around and why; the qualities you enjoy in your social circle may have a place in your business. Think about how you want to be perceived in the world and for what you like being known. Are you the humorous one in your group? The honest one? The compassionate one? Etc. Think about what qualities and values are important to you to have others associate with you.
If you’re struggling here, it’s ok to go online and look at large companies to get some starting-point ideas. Large companies (ie: Starbucks, L.L.Bean, Zappos) are easy because many of them put their core values on their websites. You can take a look at these large corporations to brainstorm but don’t just come up with values if they aren’t authentic and REAL for you and your business, otherwise they’re meaningless. Eventually, your clients will figure it out and take their business elsewhere. If you have employees, they’ll soon become demoralized and they’ll want to leave, too. REMEMBER, not adhering to your company values is like lying to your clients, customers, and employees.
Now, make a list of ALL the values you esteem and those for which you want to be known. Then hone it down to the three or five most important to you. You can have more, but try to keep it under ten and keep them to truly CORE VALUES.
Some Core Values Examples:
- Spectacular Customer Service
- Culture of Fun
- Embracing Change
- Etc …
I also think it’s important once you’ve got your final list to define what you mean. For example, you may have a slightly different idea about what “Communication” or honesty means than I do. It’s important that not only do YOU know what it means, but that everyone who represents your organization (employees, subcontractors) or works with you (vendors, customers/clients) know what it means. To make more clear, I’ll use my own company core values as an example of defining:
Message Artist Core Values
- Be Honest & Transparent: I take pride in being direct and transparent in my work. It’s my goal that I manage my client’s expectations in such a way as there are never any unpleasant surprises, unexpected costs, or time extensions of work.
- Be Authentic, Passionate, & Responsive: I want to be present and truly hear my clients’ needs and wants in order to ensure that my work and professional advice best serves their mission and immediate business needs.
- Create Beautiful Results: I promise to help my clients’ achieve their goals by solving their messaging/marketing problems, and assist them in creating beautiful, effective marketing materials.
- Compassion & Kindness: I understand that most entrepreneurs and mission-driven business owners work very hard and are emotionally invested in their businesses. I honor that and make every effort to treat everyone with whom I work with compassion and kindness.
- Be Creative & Visionary: My desire is to help my clients stand out and be unique in their field.
- Be A Learner & Willing to Change & Grow: I want to be open to new experiences and opportunities without allowing inexperience or trepidation to stand in the way.
Core Values — Visible or No?
Whether or not your core values appear on your website or in your business reception or lobby is up to you. At a minimum, your website copy ought to contain verbiage that leaves it clear what type of business you are. Core values can help someone make a decision to act if all other features and benefits are equal. For example, I was going to buy some reusable dryer balls in order to eliminate the need for less environmentally friendly dryer sheets. While seeking, I found several companies offering essentially the same product for the same price with just about the same reviews. I made my decision based on one of the companies donating some of their profits to a charitable organization that is aligned with my own values and interests. That company’s core values — and how they applied them — made my buying decision that day!
Questions about this? Let me know! I’d love to hear some of your core values and how you’ve defined them.