Can you summerise what your business values are? To put you on the right track, they are probably the same as your values. After all, it’s your business. But why are values important for a business? Well, ultimately because you values help to make up your personality and personality in business is brand. So without values, your brand is incomplete.
Establishing Your Business Values
Again, a good place to start when you’re setting your business values is to visit your own. Remember, you’ll generally be more passionate about your business and happier in your working life if you’re proud of what your business stands for. So, for instance, if you’re environmentally conscious you’ll probably want to ensure that your business is too.
However, it is important to also consider your limitations. You may want to be affordable to all but if your product costs a lot to produce, then you probably won’t be able to achieve this, so don’t make it a value. Consumers are generally quite sharp and will pick up quickly if the values you claim you hold are not reflected in your business practices.
Other ways to establish your business values is to look at those of businesses you admire. And remember, this isn’t about included five bullet points in the values section of your business plan. As a modern business, if you want to develop a strong brand that really connects and engages with people, then you’ll need to incorporate these values in the fabric of your daily working life.
Promoting Your Values
Many businesses now will have their values listed on their website. Whilst that’s not a bad idea, really it shouldn’t be necessary. Your values should appear in the images you use, the wording you choose, the social media accounts you follow and almost everything you do. For example, one of my key values is that I’m proud to be a woman in business, who helps other women in business. Therefore, you’ll notice my imagery is pretty ‘female boss’ heavy, and these are relevant hashtags I tend to use too. To clarify, being an advocator of female entrepreneurs doesn’t mean I don’t support or work with men. Just as, being a business person promoting a healthy lifestyle doesn’t mean you can’t have the occasional glass of wine or loaded fries! Having clear values should not put you in a box. However, because I talk directly to businesswomen in my online marketing and because I am a member of several female entrepreneur organisations, it does mean I tend to attract these women as clients.
This means that although we usually begin by setting our values for pure reasons, they can also directly affect the kind of business we attract. This is why it is so important to ensure that your values are aligned with your target market. If you talk directly to much about your values then you risk sounding preachy, or worse - dull. What you’ll want to do instead is to reflect those values in your strategy and tone. Here are some easy examples Value - Reducing your business carbon footprint
Actions - Follow and interact with organisations like Greenpeace. Share information and make sure you follow through yourself. Sign the petitions and keep assessing the carbon impact of your business.
Value - Locally sourced produce
Actions - Think everyone should try to shop locally? Then promote your suppliers. It won’t take away from you to give them a shout out. In fact, it shows you really believe in supporting your local businesses.
Value - Diversity
Actions - Look inward and asses. Are your customers diverse? Who are you actually communicating with? Can low-income people access your services? Would high-income people want to? Diversity is possibly the hardest value to follow through on because the default is that most businesses attract customers who are very similar to them. If you want to go beyond this then great, but you’ll have to analyse every business decision you make and ask yourself if that action really values diversity. To be clear, we should all be doing this, all of the time. But if you’re going to state that you’re doing it then you’re going to have to make it a top priority. Schemes such as ‘sponsor another member’, which many fitness, health and membership organisations are doing, can be great solutions for businesses who wish to be accessible but need to make a profit.
Why Are Our Values Valuable?
Bottom line? They help our businesses reach the right people, and this helps us make money. Mostly, your values and your products or services will be very closely aligned. For instance, I provide marketing services to small businesses and my main value is to support small businesses. Also, being eco-friendly is very important to me and so I work only with businesses who are conscious of their carbon footprint. I don’t find I have to do much to attract these kinds of businesses because we are occupying the same spaces. Because of the social media connections we have, the hashtags we use and the media we share and produce. It’s for the same reason that your social circle tends to consist of like-minded people. We basically hang out in the same places. For this reason, your values are just as, if not even more important than brand. And aside from attracting customers to your business, why is having string brand values important? Well, because it makes us happier. It’s one of the key ways in which we choose who we work with. By attracting those who share our core beliefs. Generally, if we like our customers it makes it that bit easier to show up for them every day. When I first went freelance I thought that by specifying who I wanted my ideal client to be, I’d be massively restricting myself. What ended up happening is that I attracted some people who undervalued by services, because I’d become known for being overly flexible with pricing. Also, because my own marketing of myself was somewhat meek, a very common problem among UK business owners (we’re too modest), I was attracting clients who really wanted an assistant, not an expert. I wasn’t happy. This was not how I’d envisioned self-employment. It wasn’t until I established my values, that I began attracting the clients I love working with now. Creative, passionate, environmentally-conscious business owners who value my expertise and contribution and who approach working with me as a partnership. So, what are my business values? - I believe in promoting local, small, ethical businesses
- I support women in business and strive to promote and celebrate them
- I believe in wellbeing in the workplace and actively practise and promote healthy work-life balance and the techniques that make this possible