Your business values play an incredible role in driving your business success and they should never be underestimated. They make a huge difference in attracting and keeping customers and team members too.
We warm to people and businesses who show us what their business values are, especially if they are the ones that we align to. When you show everyone what matters to you and your business you show your business’ character and what behaviour your customers can expect every time they deal with you. This makes it easier for them to trust you more quickly and this helps them to make the decision to buy what you are selling.
So what exactly are your business values? Well, they are the promises you make about how your brand will act with everyone you engage with. They are promises you intend to keep and promises that your team can follow too. They are the beating heart of your business and they lead the way your business behaves towards others.
For this reason they must be personal – they have to really matter to you. And they must also be authentic – not just ideas that you hope to achieve one day but the way you will behave every single day.
So they are not just some ideas thrown together to cover off a part of your business plan but a really important part of your whole business strategy so maybe you need to put aside some time to get them sorted. Here’s some ideas of how to do that.
Create powerful ideas
Gone are the list of words such as quality, honesty or teamwork. They just don’t tell anyone what is actually driving you and your team. Values need to be much more powerful than this. They need to show everyone that you aren’t afraid to be driven as well as caring.
When you make the decision to write the business values that you want to follow think about how you will demonstrate them. For example, you might want to be a business that always fixes any problems quickly, is accountable to your customers, is constantly improving, is friendly and warm, supports families or loves helping others.
When you make value statements rather than listing words you get to the core of what you want to be known for by everyone who deals with you. And you make it easier for them to tell others about the experience they had when dealing with your business.
That’s hugely important because these positive ideas will spread through the conversations people have about your business. And this word of mouth marketing will be extremely beneficial to your business. In fact it is so valuable that I have written a whole article about it the most powerful way to market your business
So start with words if it’s easier but then describe what you mean by them and how you will show everyone that they really matter to you. Because it is these business value statements which will form the driving force behind your business.
Put these value statements to work
Your business values are like a compass pointing towards the best behaviour that you expect from everyone who works in your business. For this reason you need to share your values every chance you get and use them to guide your decision making within the business.
From finding the best team members to choosing the best strategies it is so valuable to have criteria which you can measure everything against – because that’s what your business values are.
When you recruit staff you can make sure that they share your values and that will help to make sure that your customers will be treated the same way you would treat them by everyone in the business. And those shared business values will also mean that there is less conflict between team members as no-one is working against their natural beliefs.
Having a team who all believe in the way the business is run will definitely stand out compared to most or all of your competitors. And it will offer a tremendous opportunity to build a customer service experience equal to none.
What else can you use your business values for?
Every time you face a decision in your business check it against your values and you won’t need to worry that you haven’t made the right choice.
Every decision must match the way you want to do business and the way you want your business to be seen by everyone who comes in contact with it. If the decision matches your values then it is right for you.
You won’t find yourself drifting away from the heart of the business and being distracted by the myriad of ideas which you will encounter every day. Instead you will have a guide and compass which allows you to drive your business to success.
And the business will be one that you are proud of and one that contributes in the ways that matter most to you. That’s what your business values can do for you.
Your business values must be deep in your heart
There is no way that you can develop a list of value statements and pretend that they matter to you. It will become obvious to others that they don’t really matter because when times are too busy and problems occur you will stop living those values and your true beliefs will come out.
If you have staff they will be the first to notice and they will also stop portraying some of those values. Or they will leave, because they really want to work in a business which shares their deep-felt values.
Your customers will notice it too. You will become more average to them and they may be tempted to try out one of your competitors.
So, focus on what you really believe in and ensure that the values that your business is based on are so natural for you that you really don’t need to have them written down except to help others understand them.
Use them to stand apart from competition
Many small business owners will never take the time out to think about their values or to write down how they want their business to show them.
Because of this you are much more likely to stand out when customers compare your business to theirs.
And standing out is incredibly important for every business because that’s how customers remember you and buy from you again. And, it’s why they will recommend you to friends because they remember you.
A great way to test this out is to look at your competitors websites and see what they include about their values. Maybe they show how their values are important but maybe they don’t. Learn from this.
Or ask your community to give recommendations for businesses in your industry who give excellent customer service. Once you know who the community believes is value-driven then check them out and find out what they are doing differently and well.
Consider how you could provide a similar great level of customer service but in a way that will ensure that it doesn’t just look like you are copying them. Be creative and find ways to use your business values to rise above your competition.
Don’t think that they have to slickly written
Your business values and value statements don’t need to look like they were written by a copywriter or published author. They need to be simple and easily talked about and shown.
Firstly, you need to be able to remember them easily so you can talk about them to your team. Long, complicated statements which have to be read are just not going to convince the team that they are important to the business. So keep them snappy and fun.
And keep them relevant too by talking about them whenever you get the chance. But, more importantly, put them into practise every chance you get and show that this is what drives you and drives your business.
Sit down and think of a list of ways you could look after your customers and your community and turn them into practical ways of running your business differently.
Using your values as your business grows
When you define your business in terms of your values you need to make sure that they are front and centre every day. When you get busier, when your team grows and when you spend more time working on your business rather than just in it you need to make sure that your values still shine brightly.
Attracting more customers and pleasing them because your business is living by your values is incredibly important but if you overlook keeping the business tuned to ensure that values take priority you could lose them again to another business who are doing it better.
So, every growth step needs to be accompanied by new ways that you can meet your customer’s expectations of how your business is proving that your values matter.
Just as you use these values to make decisions about how you grow, you also need to make sure that you demonstrate them in every way you can inside and outside the business so no-one forgets the heart of your business.
How values can support your brand
Your business values are not just an internal tool to support decision making and team building. You can also use them to support your brand. Many businesses are putting their value statements on their website and using them in Social Media.
Online shoe retailer Zappos are known for their core values and their amazing business culture and even though they are now owned by Amazon the original 10 value statements are still published on their website so customers can see that nothing has changed.
You might choose to highlight your most important value statement or you could use half of them or all of them – whatever feels right for you. By including them in your branding you are making your business accountable – if you tell the market about them then you have to live up to them. And that’s really powerful.
Incorporating your business values into your branding shows your customers that you are passionate about them and passionate about developing your business in an open and honest way – and that’s really appealing to customers looking for brands with integrity.
So what’s next?
You need to put aside some time and begin the process of putting the ideas you have about your business values into statements about how you will demonstrate them. You aren’t likely to perfect this in one session.
Involve your team if you have one or friends if you are working alone. They will have fresh ideas and will really contribute. It is always easier to solve someone else’s problem than to see the answer to your own.
Once you have your value statements then decide how you will talk about them and involve them in your branding. You can start small and build up or go big and really stand out. You can probably guess which one I support.
Your business values can play an incredible role in driving your business to be more successful but only if you define them clearly, believe in them totally and share them openly. So what are you waiting for? Now is the perfect time.
©Robyn Forryan 2020
The Biz Coach NZ
Making small business successful – one idea at a time.