Your business values have a direct relationship to your business success. As a business owner, you understand how business works. You know that one of the fundamental principles of business is profit. A profitable business survives to stay in business, perhaps to grow and become even more profitable.
But a non-profitable business has a decreasing chance of survival for as long as the non-profitability continues. If the lack of profits continues long enough, the business dies. It’s a high stakes game like Monopoly, really. Make money and you get to keep playing. Don’t make money and your turn is over. That is why every business owner has their eyes on the bottom line. It’s that important.
A business owner also understands that every business is in direct or indirect competition with every other business. There is a ‘dog eat dog’ form of Darwinism at work in every business niche. All of the businesses in that niche are competing for a share of the available market.
The available market is also a finite resource that provides the profits that each business so desperately needs. All of the businesses in that niche work very hard, doing whatever they can to attract and keep a sufficient market share.
Sometimes, the competition gets so fierce and the stakes get so desperate that the owners of the businesses forget they are human beings, the owners of the other businesses are human beings and the available market share is composed of human beings. This is not only a shame, it is also a big mistake in the long term.
Business does not have to be a zero sum game. It does not have to be cutthroat. It does not have to be viewed through the black and white lens of ‘winning’ versus ‘losing’. There is another way.
Business success is based in a large part on the concept of human values. After all, every business, large and small, is comprised of people. Each of these people has their own set of ethics and principles that guide their daily behaviour. These value sets encompass more than mere domination and survival. They involve more evolved concepts such as kindness, charity, understanding and nurturing. These values help all of these people to become something more than act like savages.
A business needs to embrace the concept of values in order to succeed. The most successful businesses are not the ones who have slashed and burned their way to the top of the pile. Instead, the most successful businesses are the ones who understand that a code of conduct allows them to present their best face to the marketplace and that it is this more human face that allows them to obtain the profitability to survive.
There is no doubt that business values are an important key to the success of any business. They bring a heap of important benefits to an organization – benefits that enable the people involved in the business to work as a team to achieve important goals like increased profitability and growth. However, many people remain confused on how to actually go about setting up a set of values for their business.
Do they choose the values themselves and impose them on the rest of the company? Do they allow everyone else to decide what the values are? What if they don’t agree with all of the values chosen? What if the rest of the business doesn’t agree with the values? Fortunately, setting values is not as difficult or complicated as it first appears.
When setting your business values the first thing to keep in mind is clarity. You need to be exceptionally clear about the nature of each value and how it applies to the people in the organization. This is not the time to use generalized, fuzzy verbiage. Clearly say what you mean and avoid confusion or worse, apathy among the staff.
Next make sure that the business values are formalized. This means that they are not written down on a cocktail napkin or in the margin of a legal pad. The values you select are important. Therefore, make sure that they are properly memorialized and disseminated to everyone involved.
Next, take care to involve everyone in the business in the process of selecting the values. Nothing will leave your colleagues colder about the value set than excluding them from the process. However, involving everyone in the process doesn’t mean that your own personal voice and style, as the owner of the business, has been silenced. You still have a say. You need to lead the process without dictating the process. It’s a fine line, but you need to walk it if you’re going to end up with a set of values that are accepted company-wide.
You need to lead by example. Everyone in the business will be looking at you after the set of business values has been adopted. Your behaviour will tell them whether the values are a living document that guides behaviour or just a bunch of words that everyone pays lip service to. If you are serious about obtaining the benefits of the value set for your business, then you have to be prepared to live those values every day.
Finally, make sure that you promote your business values everywhere — on your website, on social media, in your office or workspace. Paste them up somewhere where all the staff can see them on a regular basis. Once you and your staff start to live your business values, your potential customers will quickly take notice, and you will start attracting your ideal customers, the ones who resonate with your business values, which will then bring more business success.
Self-confessed sports tragic, I love most sports (except soccer) and can sit and watch elite sportspeople for hours.