What Are Your Core Business Values And Why Do They Matter?

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Have you ever taken time to pause and reflect on what your core business values are? The core values of a company act as a foundation for your organization. These will shape everything you build on top of that. 

Did you know that 63% of people say they want to buy from companies with a purpose that resonates with their own values and internal belief system?

But sitting down and writing your core business values is just the start. If you can figure out how to embed them into your company culture, they will help you achieve your business goals and manifest your ultimate vision. Over 50% of CEOs and CFOs believe that company culture affects productivity, profitability, creativity, and business growth.

In my experience as a business coach, far too many business owners don’t sit down early enough to define their core values and company culture. And what happens? More often than not, a culture is haphazardly concocted over time through the collective beliefs and experiences of everyone on your team.

As a leader of your business, you must clarify what your core business values are and use these as your north star at all times. Your values should explain why you created your business and the behaviors everyone should embody when representing your brand. Ultimately, they should help you make key decisions to achieve your short and long-term goals. Therefore, they must be authentic to your business, and they must be specific. This is key if you want them to resonate with you, your managers, and the rest of your team. 

What are core business values?

Think about your personal core values that have developed over time and continue to guide you through life. These may have come from your parents, friends, school, religion, or even politics—all of these factors influence and shape our personal values as people. 

Looking for a company core values definition? Your core business values work the same way as your personal ones. They’re a set of principles that help steer your business—and your team—forward, and over time, these values shape the culture and identity of your business. The best company core values will tell everyone why your business exists and provide a blueprint for how that business should operate on a day-to-day basis.

However, if you want your core business values to matter, they must clearly define how you want your whole business (and the people in it) to operate, behave, and interact. 

You can also think of your core business values as a moral code for the company. These values help you make key decisions, including how you treat customers and clients and how colleagues treat each other.  

Why do core business values matter?

Essentially, your core business values become the heart and soul of your business. Every decision you make will be made with your values in mind. And when they’re carefully crafted and executed, your core values will help you build a thriving internal and external business environment. 

Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett states that company culture can make as much as a 30% difference in corporate performance.

Here are some of the most significant benefits of defining and implementing your core business values as early as possible.

You'll attract customers with similar values

There’s an increasing trend for customers to want to buy products and services from companies that align with their own beliefs and values. So if you can clearly articulate your core business values, you’ll be able to attract more of the right customers to your business—and these are the kind of customers you want.

Why? Because they’re the customers who will buy from you over and over again, tell their friends about you, and sing your praises till the end of time.

Your clients will understand what your company stands for

Similarly, new clients also care about what your company believes in. If your values align, they’re far more likely to choose to work with you than a competitor.  

Similarly, new clients also care about what your company believes in. If your values align, they’re far more likely to choose to work with you than a competitor.  

A business relationship built on shared beliefs and principles will be much stronger than one that isn’t, which is why defining your core values, articulating, and embodying them can give your business a distinct competitive advantage.

Your employees will be more motivated and engaged

A study showed that a staggering 9 out of ten people are willing to earn less money if it means they can do more meaningful work by joining a company whose beliefs align with theirs. Just let that sink in for a moment.

Defining and living your core business values will help you attract the right employees to your organization, whom all share similar beliefs. This will unite your team and decrease the chances of people leaving to work with competitors. 

Explaining your values and the reasons behind them to employees helps them better understand your business goals and will drive them to work harder to achieve them. Plus, they will be more engaged and motivated at work.

Your marketing and internal comms teams' will find their task easier

Finally, if your marketing and comms teams understand your core business values, they will be able to align their internal and external messages with those and create consistency. Plus, they’ll be much more likely to succeed in attracting sales leads. Authenticity is key for building trust, and you can’t be real with anyone unless you know what you stand for and why.   

How to define your core business values

Be unique

It’s easy to look at massive, successful companies like Google, Facebook, and Disney and try to mimic what they do. But the truth is, every business is unique, and that is your strongest competitive advantage—if you embrace who you are and can show people this. 

Resist the temptation to adopt others’ values because they seem cool or feel good or everyone in your industry uses them. Dare to be different. Stay true to the business you want to run and the people you want to serve.

Be specific

Good core values for a company must be specific. For example, it’s not enough to say that one of your values is good customer service. That’s way too generic, which makes it boring and meaningless. Break that value down. How will you give your customers great service? In what ways will you be different from your competitors?

Being specific is vital because it guides action, which brings us nicely on to the next point:  

Make sure they drive action and motivation

Your company core values list shouldn’t be a list-making activity that gets checked off and then dies in a notebook somewhere. If you make your core business values meaningful and inspiring, they will drive motivation and action in you and your employees.

Let’s explore your personal values again. If one of your core personal values is prioritizing your health, you wouldn’t just write “health” on a list and leave it there. No. You’ll be more specific about how you’ll turn that value into action. For example, perhaps you’ll say, “work out at the gym three times a week,” or “hire a personal trainer,” or “make sure I eat my five a day, every day.”

Values are meaningless unless you tie them to actions and behaviors you can measure. 

Make them meaningful

Choose core business values that actually mean something to you—this is the only path to get them to mean something to others. Your values are not there to be slapped onto a wall at your HQ or bragged about in your latest marketing campaign. You must bring them to life by practicing them in every decision you make and the action you take in your business. And the only way you’ll achieve this is by making your values meaningful. 

Believe in them

This point is closely tied to the previous one. If you don’t create core business values that mean something to you, you will struggle to believe in them passionately. And we all know that people can feel passion. Similarly, it’s obvious when someone doesn’t give a sh*t about something they’re saying or doing.

If you’re passionate about your values and believe in them fiercely, your team will recognize this and be inspired by your commitment and alignment to your principles.

Update your values as your business evolves

It’s likely that you’re here reading this because you run a business, and you want expert tips and knowledge on how to successfully build and grow it. The core values you defined when you first started your business will likely feel outdated or misaligned with the current state of your business today. When you first started, it might have just been you on your own wearing ten hats, which means you might be missing values on team culture and behavior. This is totally normal. As your business grows, your values need to evolve with it.

For example, when Netflix first defined its company culture, there was no mention of inclusion or ethics. Later they updated this, and both integrity and inclusion became two of their ten core values. So make sure you revisit your values regularly and assess whether they need tweaking or refreshing.

How to successfully implement your core values in your business

Be transparent

Employees praise and enjoy working for companies that are open and honest. They want to feel like they have the freedom to respectfully voice their opinions and that they’ll be listened to and acted upon. Employees are also more likely to feel motivated when managers and leaders are transparent, which contributes to better performance. Plus, transparency creates a sense of belonging for workers, which is also likely to boost their performance and help you achieve your business goals. 

So, how do you act transparently?

Be open and upfront about your short and long-term goals, decisions, and assessments. Regularly ask for input and feedback and be receptive to it. Don’t keep your team in the dark unless you have to. 

Lead by example

Your role as the leader of your business is to set an example for everyone else. You set the tone for how your team shows up every day. If you’re embodying your core business values, you’ll constantly remind your entire team to do the same. Meetings and conversations are also prime opportunities to remind your team what your business stands for and how this can be translated through behaviors and actions.

It’s equally important to publicly celebrate positive examples of anyone who successfully demonstrates your core values at work. Reward the behavior you want more of, and you’ll likely get more of it.

Invest in the right talent

Implementing your core business values also hinges on hiring and investing in the right people. Hiring and promoting should somewhat be based on performance, but not entirely. It’s just as crucial that people align with the core values and culture of your business.

Why? Because when someone doesn’t truly buy into your belief system, they’re likely to be less engaged, motivated, and productive at work and more likely to jump ship, which will ultimately cost you valuable resources.

So be sure to assess buy-in early on in your hiring journey.

Define and implement your core values today

If you haven’t taken the time to think about your core business values and how you can weave these into every facet of your business, now is the time to do so.

Clarifying your core values is all part of having a strategic plan in your business. Need some help with your strategy? Click here to get a free copy of my Strategy Scorecard, designed specifically to help you evaluate and assess your business as it stands today.

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