How to Develop Your Business Values

Business values are like a team of horses. They can run roughshod over your company if you fail to direct them or they can lead you to greatness if you guide them in the right direction. Here are some questions about values to consider that can propel your business to maximum success. If you’re ready to take the reigns, read on.

What Are Values?

One of the best ways to explain values is to explain what they aren’t. Values are not slogans or internal campaigns that run for a month and are then forgotten. Values are meant to endure for the long term. Think of them as the DNA that dictates what your company is all about.

Should Every Business Have Values?

No matter what size business you run, having a clear set of values is important. At a minimum, it ensures everyone is on the same page. If you run a large firm, the process of developing and implementing values can take some time. If you’re a one or two-person shop, the process is simplified but no less important.

What Kind of Values Are There?

There are four different types of values that can come into play when developing them for your company:

  • Core Values – the most deeply ingrained, these are typically a reflection of the business’s founders. A real world example might be Google’s “don’t be evil” value developed early on to set a tone of ethical business practices.
  • Ante-Up Values – these are values that need to be adhered to get in the game. For example, if you run a hair salon, cleanliness and attention to detail might be ante-up values. These typically are the same across an industry and rarely differentiate.
  • Aspirational Values – when a business wants to change, it can set aspirational values that help it adapt or overcome obstacles. Before the Internet changed the news industry, some newspapers aspired to thrive in the new medium and succeeded where others did not.
  • Serendipitous Values ­– sometimes a business will stumble into a value by accident or by events beyond its control. When former obese customer Jared lost hundreds of pounds on a Subway diet, “better health” quickly became a value that Subway rode to prominence.

How Are Values Determined?

Developing values takes time and patience. It also requires the input of key people in your organization. One way is to write down a list of ten values and share it with your inner circle. Make sure they’re values you believe in, and make sure they’re either core values or aspirational values (and not ante-up or serendipitous values). Go through them one by one and ask if they’re truly reflective of the company and its goals. By the time you finish the process, you should end up with a handful of values that you, your key stakeholders and your employees can embrace.

Values can be a powerful force that drives your business forward. Like a team of horses, they’re as good as the person in the driver’s seat.

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