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.

Clear vision is valuable to a growing business

There are many things you need to know when you are starting or growing your business. One thing that I feel is crucial to the success of your business is the vision that you have for it. Where do you see your business in a month? How about 3 months? A year? 5 years? Running a business is hard and sometimes you need to focus everything on getting through the day. Sometimes, you have to make many decisions quickly to satisfy your users and customers. However, you do need to take time to create your vision and reflect on it.

Why you need vision

Without an overall vision, how do you know if you are making the right decision for long term success? When making short term decisions and plans, it is easy to only focus on what you are currently working on. However, you can steer the business the wrong way if you are not making those plans and decisions while keeping the vision in mind. For example, what if you have created a small time tracking service? You may be receiving hundreds of requests from your customers and users. In addition, you may be facing several problems and reported issues.

Without an overall vision, how do you know if you are making the right decision for long term success? Click To Tweet

If you only base your plans on what is immediately requested, you may work on projects that you will have to re-create or throw away later on as you introduce new features. Another example would be if you are running a service business and you are considering adding a new plan or new offering. You should reflect on your vision to see how this will fit into your vision of the business a few years from now. You may discover that this new plan does not align with your goals for the business.

Things to consider when outlining your vision

Now that I discussed why you should have a vision, you may be wondering what your vision should be like and how detailed it should be. The vision isn’t meant to be an exact plan. This is because things may come up later that changes your business model, structure, or plans. However, the vision should be a guiding principle. For example, if you started a nutrition blog, your long-term vision may be to have a large community of people sharing nutrition ideas. This vision will help you make decisions and plans. If you see another nutrition blog start offering a paid service for designing meal plans, you may consider doing the same. However, you will want to consider if this service will help you grow your site into the large community of nutrition sharing people. So, when outlining your vision, keep it simple but consider items such as the size of your business, the size of your audience, and the channels you want to use to acquire and communicate with your audience.

Changing your vision of the business

There will be times when you may consider changing the overall vision of the business. You may see another business offering services that you think will be beneficial to your customers. Or, a user may make a feature request that you feel many of your users will greatly benefit from. After validating your feature or service idea, this is the time to reflect on your vision. It may be beneficial to some of your users, but will it be beneficial to most of them? Will it help you move towards your vision of the business? If so, that’s great. If not, you may want to consider not going that way. However, you can decide to shift your vision in order to begin offering that service or creating that feature. That’s okay. It’s your business and you can shift the vision to suite what you want. However, do not fall for the “shiny object syndrome” where you are constantly chasing the next shiny object. Reflecting on your current vision to see if you should shift is crucial to ensure that you continue down the right path for you and your business.

I would love to hear about the vision for your business! Comment below to share it with everyone.