Last week I had the opportunity to discuss incorporating your values into your business at the South Shore Conference for Women. This is a topic I love because having clear values can do so much to help us grow and adjust our business the way we want to. However, it can also be an exercise that people find pointless. They might have worked for companies that had values that they didn’t really live up to. Maybe you have seen companies attempt to include diversity and inclusion in their values, but it isn’t showing up anywhere else but in the mission statement. Business values must be authentic to have any use at all.
So, you might see corporate values and say, okay, that sounds nice, but are they really that important – they really just want to make a profit right? Even if some companies lose their values when it comes to business, they are important. There are three major reasons why I think they can help you in your business.
1. Attracting the right customers and clients
First reason being they can help you attract the right customers and clients. Now I know as a consumer, I am doing my homework. I am looking up just about everything. I’m looking at reviews before I buy things. I’m looking at restaurants on Yelp before I go eat there. People want to know who they’re doing business with before they give you any of their time, any of their money. So if you have values, if you have strong values that you live up to that you communicate, it can really help you attract the right people, the right customers.
2. Attracting the right employees and investors
Another thing that it can do is help you attract the right employees. So, I can talk about a couple of businesses first. Most of us have heard by now what Spanx, the CEO of Spanx Sara Blakely did? Okay. So, she just gave her employees $10,000 and two first-class plane tickets to go anywhere they want to go. One of her corporate values listed clearly is working together. When she did this it showed every single person working with her, that they are indeed working together. It proved that when the company wins and has a big year, it is not just her, the shareholders and the board members who win, they all win.
I guarantee that there were some people (probably in the Finance department) that said, “Sara, this is probably not a good idea – this is going to be expensive”! But I think when you have those values and you want to live up to them, it makes it easier to make those decisions with a clear conscience. You can know that it is right. Also, you cannot buy type of publicity. I mean, I think there’s people now who are thinking they wouldn’t mind working at a place like that. Most of us are much more willing to trade our time and energy when we feel appreciated.
3. Faster decision making
The last thing that I think is important for is decision-making. We make about 35,000 choices a day. Some of these are put on autopilot. Some of these we do every day so it not heavy lifting for the brain. I don’t wake up and think, how do I take my coffee? We like to find shortcuts. Our brain is looking to find those shortcuts, those pathways to make our decisions easier, because there are so many each day.
If you have strong values for your business, it can make your decision-making process easier. It can help you decide what is a hell yes and what is a hell no. For example, if simplicity is one of your values, you are not going to continue to add different offerings to your business. You may stick with one or two very clear offerings that people can read and understand.
If you value efficiency or low costs you may not add more features or bells and whistles that would equate to more expenses to your business. You might just want to keep things streamlined, inexpensive, and pass on those savings to your clients and customers. It makes this process easier to understand. If you know what you really care about it can make it easier to decide what to do next.
Take Chick-fil-A, they’re not open on Sundays because they want all their employees and themselves to be home on Sundays, to worship, to rest, to do what they need to do. That’s a business decision that probably cost them billions of dollars. But it’s a decision they made because it aligns with their values and a story. Do you have to like it? Nope. You go somewhere else. Yep. And you probably will. But for those people making decisions, that’s okay. You will make space to attract the right clients, attract the right employees and it’ll make your decisions easier.
Choose your values wisely
Determining your core values can be difficult – you may identify with dozens of values. Try to narrow it down to one or two or three, pick that and then write out why it really makes sense for you, how it could help be a guiding principle in everything you do in your business. Once you have those values, look at what you’ve got out there in the public. If it’s your business, look at your website to make sure it is clear what you value. Include content in your newsletter, social media posts, and emails to reinforce the message. If you’re an employee, look at what you have out there in LinkedIn for bio and at your profile.
People you work with and for want to know you and if you are clear and communicative with your values the right people may just begin to appear in your life!