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Once you have those two concepts narrowed in, it’s time to move forward to your company’s core values in order to define how you will conduct yourselves as you accomplish your mission.
Core values are the deeply ingrained principles that guide all of a company’s actions, serving as its cultural foundation. They define how you and your team behave for your customers, how you treat one another internally, and how you act within your community. More simply put, your core values are the heartbeat of your business.
Without clear core values, building a team, having great customer service, and simply establishing yourself in the market could be a great challenge. Core values are yet another way to stand out from the rest both with your clients and as a competitive workplace.
So let’s get to it, shall we?
Before we dive into some examples, we want to establish why having core values can help your business for years and years to come.
1. Values shape the company culture. Whether it’s just yourself or a team of 10+, every day you are naturally creating an office culture that will either uplift and inspire those around you or create one that doesn’t represent much of anything leading to burned out, frustrated team members who don’t have a passion for their work or their team. By establishing core values and sharing them, you are setting the tone for anyone your business interacts with which can build your audience while also attracting and retaining your staff. In fact, 46% of job seekers cite company culture as very important when choosing to apply to a company.
2. Values build customer trust. It’s easy for customers to love you when everything is going well, but when shit hits the fan, how are you going to conduct yourself in order to keep your hard-earned customer relationships? By having a pre-established list of core values, you can use them to guide how you act in both good and bad seasons of business, developing consistent expectations between you and your client. This type of trust is hard to break.
3. Values show authenticity. Lastly, values are another way to stand out from the crowd. Just like each and every one of us is unique, so can be a business. When you define the heartbeat of how your business conducts itself, it gives an opportunity for others to connect with you on a deeper level, beyond the product. Recent studies have found that 86 percent of consumers say authenticity is important when deciding what brands they like and support. Be proud of your core values, and let them be yet another reason your customers choose you over your competition.
To help you get started with your core values, here’s a list of the most common core values from smarp.
As you can see, your core values can be written as short or long as you like. The key is that they are easy to understand and easy to live out. And remember, they don’t have to sound like a Hallmark card to be authentic, but as you ideate, don’t miss out on the chance to look a little deeper so you can help your business stand out with your unique motivations and personality.
We’ve found the best way to define our company core values is to imagine three people in your life that would make perfect employees.
Step 1: Think about the people in your life that you look up to, friends, mentors, family, and list out all of the characteristics that you admire about each one of them.
Step 2: Look over your list and circle the top 5-7 qualities that really stand out to you and reflect what you want your business to be.
Step 3: Share your top values with your business partner (or someone you trust). Have a conversation about which ones mean a lot to you, why they matter, and begin to write out a few core values that fit the heartbeat of your business. Take a few moments to really customize them to make them unique to you.
If you need some additional prompts to help you brainstorm, here’s a couple of questions to get you thinking:
Once you have your core values written out with confidence, it’s time to communicate them with your advisors and team so they can be your accountability as you move forward.
To see the full value of your core values, it’s time to bring them to life so they can truly embody everything you create. (No, simply putting them on a PowerPoint one time, won’t do anything…) BUT if you consistently share them over time, your core values won’t simply be words on a piece of paper, but the real, tangible qualities you admire across your entire team. They will be something you can take great pride in.
How have you used your core values so far? We’d love to add it to our list!