Our values are largely unconscious and based on previous experience which means that much of our behaviour is an unconscious response to our environment which is based on our values but without any conscious control.
Not all business owners have taken the time to actually look within themselves to identity the values that are important to them, but their values will always be expressed in their day to day behaviour and will be what guides everyone that works in the business. If our internalized values are not consistent with our stated business values, our actions will be out of sync with our intentions.
But the good news is that if we find that our internalized values are in conflict with our stated business values - we can change them. They can be identified and changed if we take the time for some introspection.
So what are your core values and what values are going to be important for your new business? Of all the values that you discover, which ones should you incorporate into your unique business identity?
Why Core Business Values Matter
Generally small businesses tend to reflect or adopt the core values of the founder and those values form the basis of how and what the business does, and how the business conducts relationships with suppliers, customers and other stakeholders.
The bottom line is that your personal values and the way they are reflected in your small business will affect whether or not your business will survive in the long term.
Do you have personal integrity?
If not, neither will your business.
Are you basically ethical?
If not, neither will your business.
Do you have a basic philosophy of kill or be killed?
If so, this will be reflected in the way your business operates.
Your values are the basic beliefs, principles and standards that you hold about yourself and the world you live in. They guide your behavior. They are firmly held beliefs and to a large extent, they are unconscious. Scary isn't it, when you realize that your behavior is governed, not by your conscious thoughts or rationality as we all like to believe, but by your sub-conscious.
Before you begin actively starting your small business, it is a good idea to spend some time trying to identify your core values and how they will affect your small business.
Identifying Your Core Business Values
Print off a copy of the values checklist. Using the boxes labeled A, check the 20 values that you value the most as a person. There are no right or wrong answers in this exercise, don't try to select values according to which ones you believe are 'good' or 'right' or 'expected'. Select the ones that ring true for you without making any judgments.
Using the 20 small business values you selected, rank them in importance in the boxes marked B, with 1 being the most important and 20 being the least important.
For the top 10 values, write down in your own words what that value means to you.
Don't think about it too much. Being rational or analyzing the value statements is not going to be much help to you in this exercise, remember, it is your sub-conscious mind rather than your conscious thoughts that hold the answers!
Take a look at the 10 value statements you created in the previous step, and ask yourself:
- What does this particular set of values mean for your small business?
- If you run your business in accordance with your value set, what sort of reputation or image will it have with the people who deal with you?
- How will it affect your relationships with your Customers? Or your Suppliers? Or your Employees?
Now that you have brought your core values into your conscious awareness, you need to apply them to your new business and decide what your core business values will be. Re-visit your mission statement and if necessary adjust it to make it align more closely with your core business values. Keep your values in mind as you craft your business strategy, and while you are developing your goals and objectives.
Your values should also be reflected in the code of conduct you develop for your employees, and guide you as you develop relationships with anyone that the business interacts with.
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