You may think a business’s sole pursuit is money, but let’s face it – there is a high cost to pay when money is the main goal.
People, more than ever, feel that a business needs to have a positive impact on society. And many customers won’t mind paying a higher price if they know their money are making a real difference.
However, what should matter to you and what you need to fight for is your business values. Focus on being great at what you do, profit is the natural by product of being (in the immortal words of Bill or was it Ted) most excellent.
When you own a business, it’s no longer just about yourself. You need to think about your employees, your customers, your partners and you need to find a way to be a good leader – not one who leads by orders, but one who sets the example. When you put your business values first and you communicate them to everyone involved, magic happens. By being able to name your values, you are ultimately giving your business a competitive advantage. You are able to stand out and speak up.
The problem with business today is that there are still plenty of owners who don’t believe they can stay true to themselves and build a successful business. These people are wrong. Not only can you stay true to your values and principles, but you must do your best to do so. Not only will you sleep soundly at night, you employees will thank you as well. It is much easier to run a business when you have a strong position. It is also much easier to hire people and look for that great fit – someone who speaks your language and supports your values. Sometimes this would mean sacrificing good opportunities, however, it might be the change your business needs.
So what are business values anyway?
It’s quite simple really – along with your mission & vision statement and the elevator pitch, the business values define the core of your business – who you are and what makes you different. Your business values are what makes you authentic, so make sure you only lay claims to those you actually have. One of the main problems people have with values is assuming they are too intimidating and too hard to maintain, whereas values are often the little things you do persistently without even acknowledging them, such as meeting deadlines or going the extra mile for a client.
Values are not just about the morals you have or form part of your moral compass. They can add a whole different dimension to the way you do business. For example, having a clear and open communications policy, that allows people to feedback on your business may not seem like the most useful way to spend your time, especially if everyone is just going to complain, but it can be a business value that everyone supports, allows for the easy identification of new opportunities, assists with the efficient manner in which solutions are found and everyone likes.
In order to discover your business values though you need a few specific tools.
Start by thinking about your values, so you make sure you pick the right ones for your business.
1. What matters to you the most as a person?
When you are the owner of a business it is essential to be aware of your personal values first, before aligning them with the business ones. Start by asking yourself the right questions:
What things you would never do?
What are the biggest issues in the society you live in and in the world today?
How do you treat people? How do you like to be treated?
Who are the people you admire and what personality traits do you admire them for?
Which businesses do you wish yours could be more like?
How do you choose to buy a product? What do you know about the values of the businesses you buy from?
2. Tell your story
You may have already realized that people connect faster and on a much deeper level with a story. Therefore, by inspiring or moving them with your business story you will be able to connect with them better. Every business has a story, but it is important how you tell it. Write down yours – what inspired you to set up your business, who helped you along the way, what challenges has your business gone through already. By telling your story you are essentially telling a story of failure and success, of trying and succeeding, of getting knocked down and getting back up and inevitably sharing some of the most crucial moments along the way. These moments are where your values are hiding.
3. Go through a checklist
If you are not entirely sure which business values you already have or should adopt, there is no need to worry. The following samples will give you a good idea of the scope of business values today. Check the ones which resonate with you.
4. Discuss values
Perhaps one of the easiest way to discover your business values is if you simply talk about them. Values are about how you interact with others so the whole process of defining them needs to involve other people too.
Ask your team: Ask your business partners and employees to be honest about what they see as your business’s biggest values.
Ask your customers: There needs to be a good fit between your values and what your customers value; you can discover their values quickly with a simple online survey. Ask them why they chose your business, what matters to them, why they chose your service over your competitor’s and what they see as your values.
4. Live your business values
Once you have discovered which business values resonate the most with you, it’s time to integrate them into everything that you do. Make a list of the ones which matter to you the most and then expand on them by writing a sentence or two on what this specific value means to your business and how it fits in its context. For example:
- Trustworthiness: When we promise you something, we make sure we do it, no excuses.
- Timeliness: We value your time and make deadlines a priority.
- Fun: We work hard and play hard, when the time is right.
5. Assess your business
The longest step of the process and a crucial one. Make sure that each element of your business, website and messages integrate your top values. If you consider fun a top priority in your business, in what ways can you reinvest this in the work process? If simplicity is important to you. how can you make sure your website promotes this value?
As for us, we will always:
- Be transparent & diligent
- Enjoy the challenge and have fun
- Strive to achieve more with less
What values matter to you the most in your business? How open are you about business values? Share with us in the comment box.