by Marcia Hoeck
You decided when you started your business that it was going to fit you, and be a good match for the way you live your life. But do you use your values to help guide your business?
Doing so consciously can make decisions easier, lower your stress level, attract your ideal clients to you, and help you build your expert brand. Here’s how:
Begin right now to consciously act, speak, relate, and communicate in ways that represent your values, and watch what happens. For example, if one of your values is to be “environmentally friendly,” bring it forward. In your conversations, when you talk to clients, partners, vendors, your team, and everyone you come into contact with, your environmental values should be obvious and apparent. When making presentations, doing the actual work, or setting up the systems of your business, plan around these values—don’t just give them lip service. Over time, this will become a part of the way you do business. If it doesn’t, maybe “environmentally friendly” is not really one of your values—know what I mean?
Decision Making Becomes Easier
As business owners, we’re always looking for opportunities—and sometimes we get opportunities we’re not too sure about. Looking at your values and really considering them will give you great insight and the understanding to be able to say, “Yes, this is a great opportunity for the business (it matches our values),” or “We’ll pass on this. It’s not for us (it doesn’t match our values).” This may surprise those around you who wonder why you’re passing up what looks like a great opportunity. But you know what you’re doing. It doesn’t fit you. And you only have to look to your values to know which way to go with it.
You’ll also be able to make decisions about your marketing and hiring by running them through your values filter. If there isn’t a match, you’ll know it’s not going to work. And as you already know, these values can add valuable structure to your brand.
Your Values Help You Stand Out To Ideal Clients
Your values can be very visible to your clients and act as strong differentiators. If everyone on your team conducts themselves by your company values and values are reflected in your processes, you’ll create trust and credibility with clients, bonding them to you.
If one of your values is “integrity,” and if integrity truly permeates everything you do, it will be noticed by clients and prospects. You can’t have sincere integrity throughout your business and not have it become part of your company’s reputation.
We’re Like The Cobbler’s Kids (No Shoes)
As communicators, it’s easy to recommend the use of values as branding strategy to our clients and totally overlook the impact for our own companies. But there are other reasons it’s important—not only are your values a huge part of your brand, but bringing them to the surface in the day-to-day running of your business can also make being in business a whole lot easier.
As communicators, it’s easy to recommend the use of values as branding strategy to our clients and totally overlook the impact for our own companies.
1. If you haven’t already done so, take the time to think through and document your top four or five values, the ones you’ll use to guide your business.
2. Having too many values in your list dilutes them all and defeats the purpose. You won’t remember to use them, and they won’t become visible to others. Keep your list short.
3. In many cases, your business values will be the same as your personal values, and they’ll overlap. However, depending on the size of your business, your business values may be larger or need to encompass more—like team members, systems, clients, and growth plans. Also, you may decide that some of your personal values are not appropriate for your business.
4. There are no right or wrong values, just as there is no right or wrong way to set your values. Because your values are essentially your principles, the whole thing is up to you—the only rule is that they’re genuine.
5. As you consider the values that will guide your business, also think about your “anti-values,” or the characteristics and attitudes you want to avoid—in yourself, the people you deal with, and the way you conduct business.
1. Read “How to be Rich and Happy” by John P. Strelecky and Tim Brownson and use the process they describe to uncover, understand, and start living your values.
2. Use a Work Values Checklist like the one provided from LifeWorkTransitions.com to get your ideas flowing. But don’t stop there—add, subtract, and make up your own.
3. Read the SmartCompany.com blog post, “Why Your Company Needs Core Values,” to see Tony Hsieh’s list of values for Zappos and other excellent values lists, including some very bold and in-your-face for ideas on making your values unique and motivating.