her business: 5 reasons you need core values & 5 steps to find yours
her words are brought to you by Alex StePhen-Fullgraf Certified Life Coach.
Alex Stephen-Fullgraf is a certified life coach and previously worked in business development for a major canadian financial association. She now coaches individuals on optimism and resilience and provides business coaching and co-developed the program for Her Masterminds.
core business values: 5 reasons why you need to know your core values if you run your own business and 5 steps to develop your business core values
Verne Harnish describes in his book Scaling Up that just like athletes any growth firm needs strong values at its core or the organization risks. He says, “Instability from cultural challenges, loss of focus, disengagement, and lack of heart as it scales up.” Values make up the total picture of your organization and help companies to grow with clarity.
Harnish explains that crafting thoughtful and meaningful core value statements are critical for every successful company. He tells the story of Hatim Tyabji, CEO of VeriFone who grew the company from a $31 million dollar company into a $600 million enterprise in the industry of credit card clearing and transactions. Tyabji credits much of that success to his “blue book”, a nine-page book that outlined the core values at the heart of VeriFone's culture.
Below, I outline 5 reasons why core values are important for your business and how to find yours:
1. Values Provide Direction
Values are also like your guiding compass and provide ongoing direction to you as well as each individual in the business.
Have you ever found yourself asking, “What does my business stand for? How do I want to serve my clients? What decisions should I be making?”
All these questions and more can be answered if you are clear on your core values.
What are core values?
They are a part of us and our company.
They are what we stand for.
They provide purpose and direction.
They guide our decision-making.
In effect, they become our guiding compass (which Jayla has written about and discussed before). With a compass, you will not feel lost. The core values are the arrows on the compass that provide you with direction and meaning. When you are clear on your core values, your business is better positioned to go in the direction that you envisioned.
2. Core Values build your Brand Personality
As an entrepreneur your business is a huge part of YOU. Your values are your unique brand personality. Entrepreneurs need to be clear on what they stand for if they want to go in an authentic direction and in turn attract the right customers or develop the right products that align with them. Finding meaning and direction for your business through values and then taking concrete actions to express your values in the work that you do it is so important to leading a fulfilling life. If they aren’t already, your core values should be front and center in your business. They are a great way to frame your offering to prospective clients and future employees. They will show clearly who you are, what you stand for and how you are different.
As well, lets face it, sometimes it’s lonely being an entrepreneur and a key ingredient for success is being able to stay motivated, even when it gets tough, even when it’s an uphill battle. By being clear on your personal and business values, it will keep you more passionately linked to the work at hand, making it easier to tough it out.
3. Simplify Decision Making
As Harnish explains, when values permeate the company, leadership can avoid being sucked into day-to-day operational issues. The guiding rule becomes, “if you think you need to ask me permission for something, just consult the core values!”
The values become that checklist that governs decisions and ethical behaviour. Core values can even help us make even the toughest decisions like hiring and firing.
Tony Hirsh, the CEO of Zappos believes that values are are so important and he would have placed greater emphasis on them from the start if he were to start Zappos again.
“We believe that it's really important to come up with core values that you can commit to. And by commit, we mean that you're willing to hire and fire based on them. If you're willing to do that, then you're well on your way to building a company culture that is in line with the brand you want to build."
Check out Zappos core values here!
Secondly, being an entrepreneur means there is a ton more decisions to be made on a daily basis, since you are both the boss and the employee when starting out. Decision fatigue, the idea that there is an finite limit of decisions someone can make in a day, is that much more likely for someone building from the ground up. By allowing core values to guide your decisions, you avoid this fatigue.
4. Ability to Increase Profitability
In his book The Culture Cycle, Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett show that developing the right culture helps companies be more profitable and provides them with a sustainable competitive advantage. He describes the the “culture cycle” as beginning with the establishment and communication of shared values and behaviors. These shared values and beliefs impact the behaviour of employees and contribute to creating a great culture with everyone on the same page.
“Organizational culture is not a soft concept. Its impact on profit can be measured and quantified. And in organizations with large numbers of customer-facing employees, the sum of the effects of employee turnover, referrals of potential employees by existing ones, productivity, customer loyalty, and referrals of new customers attributable to culture can add up to half of the difference in operating income between organizations in the same business.“
YOUR CORE VALUES KEEP YOU MOTIVATED
As Jayla explains, core values help keep you motivated. Lets face it, sometimes it’s lonely being an entrepreneur and a key ingredient for success is being able to stay motivated, even when it gets tough, even when it’s an uphill battle.
By being clear on your personal and business values, it will keep you more passionately linked to the work at hand, making it easier to tough it out.
With intention setting, there has been evidence that by involving your emotions, or right brain, you are more likely to accomplish your goals and intentions.
Why? Because we are involving the goals deeper within us, with our true passion. When we set goals that do not incorporate our values or right brain, its a linear goal without the motivation to charge it forward when the going gets tough.
Think of your core values as something to come back to when you are doubting yourself or going through a challenging time. It allows you to pivot your efforts and stay on course of why you are doing this!
SO, ARE YOU READY TO FIND YOUR CORE VALUES?
5 STEPS HOW TO FIND YOUR CORE VALUES FOR YOUR BUSINESS
**Below steps have been adjusted to help you find core values, to find your personal values, check here.**
STEP 1: WRITE DOWN THE ANSWERS TO THESE QUESTIONS:
1. What are your top 3 favourite books and or movies and why? (Think about what drew you to the characters or the information? What qualities do they have?)
2. What are your top 3 favorite songs?(What is it about the lyrics or beat that really resonate with you).
3. What is something that makes you really angry? *
4. What company do you admire? Why?
5. What gets you out of bed every morning to run this business?
STEP 2: LOOK FOR TRENDS IN YOUR ANSWERS
Now look for trends and patterns in the answers. Are there key words that are coming up again and again?
Ps, for what makes you angry, it is the opposite of the things that make us angry that are usually core values and could be the business problems we are actually trying to solve.
You will probably have uncovered several values in the process and feel free to add as many as come to mind.
The values may be obvious and already in your life or they may be things you are drawn to but are not currently exhibiting. You don’t have to have them currently in your life to identify them as core values; however they are things that you desire and are willing to work to create!
STEP 3: NARROW DOWN
Next, let's narrow down to 5-10 values. I would recommend to narrow it down to 5 core values because that way you can remember all of them. Research shows that most adults can only remember 5-9 items in their short term memory.
If you have more than 5 then please start to narrow them into group or themes and ask yourself the following:
Is there one you are drawn to more?
Ask yourself what value is essential to my life and business?
What am I incapable of living without?
Is this value authentic to me?
STEP 4: ENJOY YOUR VALUES OVER THE NEXT WEEK!
Enjoy your values over the next week and then start to rank them in order of importance.
No matter what stage of growth you are at, it’s never late to take time to think about your core values and to start living by them. If you already have values ask yourself how committed are you to leading by your core values.
If you want to take your values to the next level please visit my core values article 2. And take a look at the core values of the companies that inspire you!
For female entrepreneurs who are ready to dedicate 90 days to kick ass in their business, with guided content, team, coaches and accountability.