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Small Business Tips

How to Establish Business Core Values

Manasa Reddigari

How do you run your business in closer step with your values? One way is to define a set of business core values that unite¬†individuals around a shared mission. But how do you select inspiring and enduring core values that resonate with you, your employees and customers?  Here are five points to consider when establishing your business core values.

Business core values: Assess your strengths and weaknesses

When you tailor your core values to your unique business strengths, your business is more likely to build upon those strengths. Similarly, core values that acknowledge your weaknesses help you avoid mistakes. Evaluate what your business does well and where it needs improvement. Make a list of strengths like speedy service or a customer-first approach.  Similarly, jot down any weaknesses. Then, integrate elements from both lists to establish core values that celebrate the most prized strengths while limiting but still allowing for occasional missteps.

Observe your star employees

Many businesses forget that one or more of their core values are already staring them in the face in the form of their employees. Your best employees don't simply serve your vision ‚Äî they contribute to the vision of the company.  Identify the A-players among your team. Then, observe the qualities that make them inspiring. For example, their eagerness to share knowledge or a habit of thinking out of the box to solve problems. Combine the success-oriented values of one or more employees to establish core values that represent the best qualities of your team.

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Play the long game

Even a strong set of core values cannot leave a lasting impact unless you remain committed to them for the life of your business. That means the values should be focused enough to integrate now yet broad enough to be applicable in the long-run as your business priorities change.  Set core values that transcend a specific product or service and instead capture your overarching vision, motivation and culture. This way, your core values will stand the test of time no matter how much the business landscape changes.

Business core value tip: Avoid platitudes

Expressions like "work hard" and "do your best" are less effective and actionable as business core values because they can come across as empty words instead of meaningful ideals. When setting core values, avoid platitudes.  Instead, create a shortlist of clear and concise core values that feel personal to individuals at all levels of the business. Your team is more likely to stick to values that resonate with the day-to-day realities of working in the business. These values are also more likely to engage and inspire your team to truly do their best each day.

Be inclusive

Overly prescriptive core values can divide individuals in your business instead of bringing them together. They can also limit your hiring options by deterring applicants who want to avoid a more rigid company culture.  For this reason, it's wise to adopt core values that foster an open company culture inclusive of different backgrounds, experiences and opinions. In fact, people are more likely to embrace core values that can accommodate a diverse business population.

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