You Can’t Reap What You Don’t Sow

Every Friday, my daughter and I have our “Friday Family Movie Night” where we order pizza, pop some popcorn, and watch a new movie that we bought that week. Some of the movies that we have watched recently includes Wall-E, Aladdin, and Beauty & The Beast. The other week, we watched the movie The Lorax which is an adorable movie about greed and the environment. Towards the end of the movie, there was a song, “Let It Grow” which included this line:

You can’t reap what you don’t sow!

Normally, a random line from a song in a movie doesn’t usually catch my attention. However, I had a similar conversation earlier in the day that also had a similar subject.

Start Sowing

Over the years, I have met countless people looking to start or grow their businesses. Almost every person I’ve met has had a dream or goal of where they can see themselves. The issue is that a lot of these people spend so much time thinking about how they want things to be that they forget to actually start. The person I was speaking with earlier in the day before watching The Lorax was someone who had a great idea. The issue was that he was wasting a lot of time on thinking and not enough time on actually doing.

One of the biggest hurdles in accomplishing your dreams is actually starting. A recent study from Bentley University found that 66% of people wanted to start a business. 66% is a lot of people that are interested in starting businesses. However, Global Entrepreneurship Monitor reported that only 12% of people in the United States were involved with entrepreneurial activity in 2015.

66% of people want to start a business but only 12% actually do. What's stopping you from starting? Click To Tweet

Why is there a massive difference between people who want to start their own business and people who are actually running businesses? While there are many reasons that people give for not starting, a lot of the reasons can be summed up in the fear of the unknown. The issue is that you can’t achieve your dreams when you don’t event start.

What’s Stopping You

Naturally, there are good reasons to be hesitant in starting a new project or new business. What if something goes wrong and the project or business doesn’t work out? What if your project results in a lawsuit? How does starting a new project affect your life and family?

These questions are perfectly normal to have. I had many similar questions when I first started back in 2009. I wanted to start my agency My Local Webstop but didn’t know anything about the legal, accounting, or marketing. What if it didn’t work out? I couldn’t tell my electric company to wait until my business took off.

When I was discussing my worries with a friend of mine, he asked me “What is really the worst that could happen?”. I pondered that over. At the end of the day, even if my business drastically failed and I was months behind in bills, I could still get back on my feet eventually. It may take a few years, but I could recover. I knew what my dreams and goals were. Even if this business failed, I could recover and then try again.

So, my next question was “What obstacles were in my way?”.

Removing Obstacles

Everyone is going to have obstacles in their way when they get started. The great thing about the time we live in is that almost any project or business that you want to start has ways that you can reduce the obstacles in easy ways. For most businesses, you can start the business in a very part-time setting around a full-time job. For example, you can start a photography studio by scheduling photo sessions around your day job.

Some businesses will require some money upfront such as a lawn care company or eCommerce businesses. You can find ways to reduce these costs by borrowing equipment or purchasing used equipment to get you started. For your Ecommerce business, you can only order or make a very small amount of your products until you start getting customers instead of bulk ordering anything.

If you aren’t sure if anyone will even need your product or service, you can even try to validate the idea before you start.

Instead of jumping completely in with your time and money, look for ways that you can reduce the amount of cost and risk that will come with starting your project or business. Even if your business doesn’t have much risk, doing this exercise will help you feel even more confident in being able to start.

Reap Your Reward

Something to remember is that you will gain something from whatever you decide to start even if it fails. You may become successful but you will also learn a lot of valuable lessons and strategies as you go. You may learn the basics of marketing, handling customers, email and time management, and lots more.

I have met so many entrepreneurs who have said something like “If only I knew what I know now 5 years ago when I started”. If you keep delaying when you start, you are also delaying when you will start learning. Take the leap today and start sowing the seeds of your future!

Core Values Help Guide Your Team in the Right Direction

Like people, most businesses have certain ideas and views that they highly value. These core values are part of every decision and action you take in your business. If you value freedom from an office, you will grow your business in a way that is different than someone who values having teams working in an office with them. However, most founders and entrepreneurs never take the time to pull the values out of their mind and present them to their teams.

What are core values?

A while ago, I wrote about having a clear vision for your business. Creating your company values and explaining them to your team helps immensely in this process. By knowing exactly what the company values are, your team is more likely to make decisions and take actions in the ways that your business needs them to. For example, if one of your core values is “Have Fun” and it is regularly talked about, it is more likely that your team will evolve into embracing that value.

This also helps as you grow your team. You can use the company’s core values to find potential candidates that fit in with the company’s values to ensure that they are a good fit for your company and your company is a good fit for them. For example, if your company has a value of “Full Transparency” and you can tell that to your potential candidates for positions that you are hiring for, you may find people who feel that your company is not a good fit for their values. This helps identify culture conflicts before you even hire anyone.

Some examples of core values

So, what does some core values look like? One of Zappos’s core values is “Deliver WOW Through Service”. Some of your core values can be longer such as one of Whole Foods core values which is “Promoting the health of our stakeholders through healthy eating education”. Here are Aweber’s core values:

  1. Foster Respect and Cooperation.
  2. Listen to What People Say About Us. Invite Feedback.
  3. Learn. Educate. Innovate.
  4. Don’t Take Ourselves Too Seriously; Have Fun.
  5. Create Remarkable Experiences.

Another example would be Salesforce’s values:

  1. Technology – Offering donated and discounted technologies to higher education organizations and nonprofits
  2. People – Promoting a culture of caring and helping employees give back
  3. Resources – Providing grants inspired by our employees, technologies, and communities

Now, compare those with Barnes & Noble Booksellers‘s core values:

  1. Customer Service
  2. Quality
  3. Empathy
  4. Respect
  5. Integrity
  6. Responsibility
  7. Teamwork

They then further explain each core value depending on where they are using the core values. For example, their Quality value has additional explanation:

Our actions and personal standards reflect our mission of being the best specialty retailer in America. We focus on delivering desired results within established timeframes.

As you can see, core values can be formed in all different ways. They could be one word values that you can explain further. Or, they could be lengthy phrases. Core values are unique to your business and can be worded in any way that feels right for your business.

How to decide on your own core values

Now that we have looked at a few example values and discussed why they are useful, you may be wondering where to start in creating your own. I was first introduced to core values when I read Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business and I highly recommend you checking that out. After looking at many different businesses and their values, I have found that they usually decide upon about 5 values. These values range from 1 word to 15 words.

When I started working on core values for Quiz And Survey Master, I first started pondering what sort of values do I have and which of them heavily influence the business. From there, I started crafting a few ideas that I could write down. Then, I put that list away and stepped away from it for a few days. This gave me time to look at them with fresh thoughts when I visited the idea again.

Once I narrowed down the ideas to around 5, I started trying to come up with different ways to phrase them that may make it easier to explain or convey the value itself. Finally, I presented my current ideas to my team and asked for feedback and their ideas.

Eventually, we crafted these 5 core values:

  1. Our Team – We treat our team like family
  2. Customer Success – We strive to ensure our customers are successful
  3. Respect – We respect every person
  4. Curiosity – We are always curious about learning new things and self improving
  5. Transparency – We always have honest, open, and transparent communication

From here, I created a document to keep these values listed in that I can include in various content such as communication with team members, new hires, content packets with new clients, etc…

What’s next?

I have found it very helpful to refer back to these core values to re-iterate what we stand for. For example, when a support person is trying to help a particularly difficult user, we ask “how can I ensure this customer is successful?”. This is a useful exercise to keep the core values a part of the team.

So, once you finish creating your core values, what should you do next? The first thing to do is to communicate your core values with everyone on your team.

This first thing you should do with your core values are share them with your team! Click To Tweet

This can be a simple team meeting or a company-wide keynote speech. The goal is to not only tell your team what your core values are but also why those are the core value and how is the team benefiting from having core values.

Finally, tell everyone else about them. Make it a part of your “get to know you” campaign and your onboading process for new clients and users. Your users want to know about you and who you are. Telling them about your core values is a great way to connect and share a little about your business with them.

If you are trying to figure out what your core values are, take your time. This will not be something you whip up one afternoon. I have created a set of questions that you can download that will help you in the brainstorming part of the process. Check it out below:

Several of the example core values came from a post on YFS Magazine.