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Core Values Are Crucial For Your Business – How & Why To Create Values For Your Biz
In recent years, we’ve seen a huge trend with businesses promoting their core values. With the rise of social media, businesses are trying to reach audiences on a more emotional level and build relationships with their customers. One of the best ways to do this is by sharing and voicing their core values as part of their brand identity. This article will explain what exactly core values are, why they are important, and how to create strong core values for your business.
What are core values in the business setting?
Core values are an essential part of branding. They are, along with the mission and vision statements, a powerful way for a business to establish their identity, show their audience what they stand for, and create a sense of relatability.
In basic terms, core values are the morals that a business uses to make its decisions.
For example, Panda Restaurant Group (aka Panda Express) promotes their core values as:
- Great Operations
As a company, their restaurants contribute a lot to their local communities, their workers hold themselves to a higher standard of customer service, and they are always seeking opportunities for improvement.
Any time a business needs to make a decision, such as growing in a particular direction (new market, new product, etc) or contributing to a specific charity, for example, they would look at their core values and make sure their decision fits within those morals.
Why should businesses establish their core values?
There are two main benefits core values provide for a business.
First, core values help create a business’ brand identity. Brand identity is how you want the world and your customers to see your business. Is your business futuristic and intuitive, is it kind and compassionate, is it globally conscientious? Does your business believe in solidarity, or perhaps trust?
Establishing core values allows your customers and the rest of the world to see what matters most to your business.
Shaping how your business is seen by potential customers helps you attract customers that hold the same (or similar) beliefs.
It helps people feel more comfortable doing business with you, as they can clearly see what you stand for and what values you feel are most important.
Secondly, core values help businesses to make those decisions (both big and small) that I mentioned earlier.
Every single business has to make decisions. And in times when a business is struggling (and most businesses will struggle at some point or another as they grow), core values become important guides when making tough calls.
Let’s look at Chick-Fil-A for example. While it’s certainly a controversial example to use, it is important for showing just how core values can impact businesses over time.
A lot of people commend Chick-Fil-A for many things, such as impeccable customer service and giving their employees Sundays off. These are decisions and practices that have been established to support their core values.
But they have also gotten a lot of bad publicity for supporting certain causes. Some of the charities that Chick-Fil-A has supported have practices that violate equal rights and/or alienate certain members of society.
Chick-Fil-A has had to take a very serious look into which charities they will continue to support, and which ones they sever ties with, in order to continue to align with their core values. They will use their core values to make these decisions, as well as other decisions going forward, and some of those decisions have also been controversial.
Even though Chick-Fil-A is attempting to move forward with more inclusive choices, those past decisions continue to damage their reputation. (There’s that brand identity, again.) You can read more about it in this Fortune article, if you like.
This is why establishing core values can be an important part of your brand identity- how do you want YOUR business to be perceived? What does YOUR business stand for?
How do I choose the right core values for my business?
There are many ways to choose a core value, and each business will have different values that appeal to them most.
When deciding on the core values for your business, you can start by looking at the current culture of your organization.
If your brand is known for practicing “green” habits, then you might want to make a core value about being eco-friendly or environmentally conscious.
Perhaps your organization is known for working hard as a team, then maybe teamwork would be a great core value.
Another factor for choosing core values is determining how you want your business to look to the world. This is a great way to help drive change in the organization.
For newer or smaller businesses, you, as the owner, typically get to decide on which values you choose for your business. For example, many small businesses want to be known for fantastic customer service and state this as one of their core values.
Some popular core values among businesses are (although there are many, many more possibilities):
Here at OWLLytics, our core values are Organization, Wisdom, Leverage, and Love. We want people to think of our business as one that helps others learn & grow (wisdom), become more organized, use tools and skills smartly (leverage), and is family-centered (love).
Ohhhh….so THAT’S WHY there’s two L’s in OWLLytics…. *lightbulb*
(And if you’re curious, the ‘ytics’ is for analytics, because we use data science and analytics to make data-driven decisions.)
Not quite sure which values to choose? Check out this article from Indeed for some amazing examples!
How many core values should my business have?
There is no magic number of how many core values you should have.
Some organizations have 10 others have 5.
Having too many can become difficult to manage and hard to remember for employees. Too few values can leave your business struggling for definition and direction, and perhaps even leave too much room for interpretation.
The suggested number is typically between 3 and 6 core values.
However many you choose, you need to uphold these values at all times and use them as company guides, so make sure they are values that truly represent something. You don’t want to just choose random words that sound good. Make them count!
Once I have decided on my business’ core values, then what?
After you select your business’ core values, write them down. Write definitions next to each one.
What do they mean to your business? What do they stand for? It would be best if you defined what they mean to your business and brand. This can be a few sentences in length, but keep it straightforward and to the point. You want them to be easily remembered.
Once you have defined your values, you need to add them to your strategic vision plan, if you have one. If not, you can check out our article about creating one!
A lot of very small businesses do not take the time to create strategic vision plans, and that is okay. For many small businesses, it isn’t necessary for the first few years, especially as you’re establishing your business and determining its direction. As you grow, and your business evolves, you might find it more useful and can always create one then.
But if your company is rapidly expanding, creating a strategic vision plan can be a powerful tool for setting up your business goals and establishing a tangible plan for completing those goals.
A strategic vision plan is also an important way to keep all members of the business working in the same direction and on the same page, which prevents a lot of problems later on.
How can I use my business’ core values when making decisions?
There are a lot of ways to use your core values when making decisions. Many times, we make business decisions without really thinking about it. We choose products based on our interests and we set goals based on what we’re hoping to achieve. We pick blog topics based on what sounds good at the time, and we just keep pressing forward.
Businesses who keep their core values in the front of their minds when making these types of choices often succeed faster than those that don’t.
And here’s why: they have a specific direction that they are moving in, and all of their choices are aligned with that direction.
Imagine how slowly a car would move if the wheels weren’t set to point in the exact same direction while it drives? If the right wheel was pointed slightly the other way, it would drag down the entire car. It might even leave some burn marks on the road.
Every choice you make as a business can lead your business in a slightly different direction without realizing it. Or worse- it can pull your business in multiple directions at once, which can get overwhelming down the road. That’s why core values are important.
The core values provide clarity on how to make both big and small decisions and keep you moving forward.
For instance, let’s say you are a cleaning service and one of your core values is sustainability. When you decide to purchase a new cleaning product, you need to make sure that the product is sustainable.
This might mean you have to spend more on a product that is packaged in recycled materials and avoids certain chemicals in order to align with your core values.
If you were trying to cut costs, however, you would need to look at your core values again. Can you save money on products without compromising those values?
If you purchased cheaper products that weren’t eco-friendly, then you wouldn’t be supporting your business’ values very well. In fact, it would be directly contradicting your brand’s identity and send mixed messages to your customers.
No one likes a business that does not stand for what they say they believe, and a lot of people choose products and services that support similar values to their own. So it’s important to keep those values in mind in whatever decisions you make.
Core values are a big part of brand identity, and they help to define your business’ strategic vision plan.
Core values symbolize what an organization or brand represents and guides decision making to promote successful growth.
When picking your business’ core values, choose ones that you can honestly stand by at all times. You can pick between 3 and 6 great ones, and make sure they are simple and easy for everyone to understand- both within your business and everywhere else.
Choosing strong core values will help your business move forward successfully, establish a stronger brand identity, and attract customers with similar beliefs.
Whichever values you decide on, you are going to do great! You’ve totally got this.
And now, you’ve got a bit more clarity, direction, and intention moving forward from here. Woohoo!