How to Develop Authentic Values

Being true to yourself. That’s what likely drove you to start your own small business rather than work for someone else. You took what you valued and turned it into action. Some call it “being authentic.” But does your small business do the same thing? Are your business’ values just words on a sign in the break room or do they reflect how it’s run? Here are some tips to develop authentic values for your small business.

Why It’s Important to Develop Authentic Values

Your business’ values are a key part of your company’s identity. They’re broad beliefs about what is or isn’t appropriate behavior. Your customers may never see these values in writing. Instead, they’ll experience them in how your staff acts, how they are treated, and what products you offer.

For example, if your sporting goods store values family camping then your staff might be encouraged to share their own camp stories with customers. You might offer family camp safety classes or market tents that will accommodate a family of four.

Being True to Your Business

Authentic values should reflect how you want your business to run. While they can evolve over time, they should still support the reason your business exists. Consider these ideas when promoting authentic values for your business:

  • Tell a story – Values might be expressed in words but they are lived in stories. So use stories to communicate your core values. Give examples of something an employee did to help a customer. Feature a customer’s story on your social media page and invite others to share.
  • Put it in the staff drinking fountain – Integrate your values into as many staff-related activities as possible. Include it as part of your hiring interview, in new employee orientation, recognition programs and your coaching sessions.
  • Ask customers – Check with your customers periodically to find out whether their experience with your business reflects its values. It might be as simple as a status update on your Facebook page asking them to post the one word that best describes your business. Their answers can help you determine whether you’re living your values.
  • Add it to your scorecard – Profit and loss, market share and percent of repeat sales might be used to measure your business goals. Consider adding values to your list of metrics. Ask whether a goal supports (or is consistent with) your core values? Values are closely tied to your strategic plans so monitoring them can help you stay on track.

Authentic values is the fuel that powers a business. It’s important to understand why they are important and how successful small businesses can encourage them.

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