Starting your own company is a risky (no pun intended) business. Millions have tried and millions have failed. As a matter of fact, Fortune magazine says that 90-percent of startups are doomed to fail, though this has not had the slightest effect on the millions of hopefuls looking to achieve startup success.If you count yourself among them, there are important decisions you need to make before taking your company from the garage to the boardroom, chief of which is defining your business core values.
What exactly are business core values?
Your business core values pertain to the overarching reason that defines your company’s existence—the very thing that answers the all-important question, “Why?”. It’s what serves as the groundwork for everything else: the hows, whats, whens, wheres, and whos of your business. Taking inspiration from Simon Sinek’sThe Golden Circle, the why serves as the center—the very heart—of the organization. It’s the raison d’etre that drives everything you do from sourcing to selling to marketing to customer service and beyond, and also influences the cultures and values you and your employees live by.The reason you need to have a clear picture of your core, you can make your vision crystal clear not only for your customers, but also for all the people who make things happen—your employees.Lay a strong groundwork with a clearly defined why, and everything else will follow; cascade your business core values into every aspect of the business and watch a unique company culture and brand unfold.
Why is a company core important?
Let’s take a look at three companies and try to find links between their success stories and their core purpose.Dozens of publishers have gone bankrupt but The New York Times continues its 167-year strong run, maintaining a robust business in the age of digital content. How could they have possibly done this? By continuously innovating how to enhance society by creating, collecting, and distributing high-quality news and information.Thousands of soap brands have come and gone but Unilever has stayed strong, vowing to add vitality to life through brands that help people feel good, look good, and get more out of life.Rival brands have introduced products with far better features but Apple remains a formidable force in the world of electronics. From its peak under the helm of founder Steve Jobs, the tech giant has always promised to make a contribution to the world by making tools for the mind that advance humankind.Noticed how all three companies each followed a strong core mission that transcends their products? As proven by these companies, businesses with strong core values and a well-defined sense of purpose can stand the test of time—that in spite offering essentially the same products as their competitors.Going back to Simon Sinek, keep in mind that people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.
How can I find my core?
Focus. Choose one problem you want to solve and look for the best and most genuine solution possible.However, at the same time, be realistic and admit that you can’t possibly create the answer to everyone’s wants and needs. Such an approach is bound to create the opposite result—cater to all, and you and up catering to none.Your core values should be clear, authentic, and meaningful. No need for a mushy mission statement or motto—those things are overrated anyway. What resonates with people is honesty. Identify one problem you want to solve, and work very hard to make sure no one else can solve it better. Do that well enough and people will not only buy your products, they’ll build relationships with your brand.
I’ve found my core. Now what?
The best way to flex your core, metaphorically speaking, is to use it as means to simplify all your business decisions. If it aligns with with your business core values, do it; if it doesn’t, don’t. There really isn’t that much more to it.Take a good look at your entire organization and look for areas to improve. Are the things you do in line with your company values? Do your practices reflect the things you believe in? Does your message resonate with your customers? Many times you’ll discover that there are processes to redesign, policies to reevaluate, employees to retrain, and strategies to rethink in order for others to fully appreciate your why. Communicate your business core values through your products, inspire employees to work with purpose, and establish rapport among your stakeholders by holding yourself accountable to the principles you believe in.Fully embodying your business core values means thinking beyond profit margins and bottom lines; it entails sincere commitment to the why you set out to accomplish.
Doing—and living by—something you believe in makes others believe you too. People align themselves with companies that give them “a strong sense of purpose” and whose values they share. Understand this well and you’ll be on your way to becoming part of the 10-percent.Knowing why you do it—your business core values—is just the first step to business success; who you do it for comes next.Learn how to identify key market assumptions to understand your audience better.