Maybe you started your business out of necessity—you were laid off from your day job or just needed to get away from the grind. But as it started growing, you started to develop ideas about how you wanted (and didn’t want) to conduct business. These ideas come from our personal values and belief systems, our work ethic and how we were raised. And they help to form our personality and the personality of our business.
Whether you’re aware of them or not, they’re there. Maybe just seeds of ideas in the back of your head, or maybe they’re something you’ve begun to write down or even added to your website.
Your values are one of those things that helps to attract others to you. It’s likely that your friends share the same personal values that you do—it’s probably one of the things that you liked about your friends when you first met. And it’s very likely that your values tie in closely with your why.
A values statement is different from your business’s mission and vision. Here’s how:
- A vision describes your business in the future—the ultimate goal of your business.
- A mission explains what your business does and why. (Read last week’s blog post for more about finding your why.)
- Your values statement explains the core philosophies that your business employs as it does business. Values are your overarching beliefs, and what you use when you make decisions about right and wrong, good and bad.
Your values statement can be a single statement or paragraph, explaining your beliefs and the beliefs your business will run by. But it can also be several, unrelated statements written in list form.
How ever you choose to write your values, it’s an important step to take as you grow your business. Your audience wants to get to know you and knowing the things that are most important to you—in business and in life—is a big step.
It’s likely that you already know your values, but have you thought about how to put them down on paper? How to write them out so they make sense to your audience and really speak to your audience’s heart?
An article in Fortune Magazine illustrates some great examples of mission and values statements from some very successful companies—Build-a-Bear, L.L. Bean, Twitter and others. And this SlideShare can help you identify “hollow” core values—values that don’t really reflect the deeper meaning behind the business.
If you’re struggling with your values statement, go back to your why. And if you continue to struggle, be sure to sign up for more information about Content Style School (at the top of the page). We’ll be diving into core values as you identify your online voice for your business.