Confession: I know the word “sexy” was so last decade. But I’m comfortable with that.
Because if you read the definitions (from Oxford no less) – here are the words you read:
It’s a no-brainer. These are the words I want others to use to describe my company.
Values capture the spirit of a company.
They are magnetic. They draw customers that are a fit to you, they draw employees who will further your mission to you, and they attract partners who will be good compliments in your shared journeys.
Values bring your tribe to the table so you can move your vision forward in the real world.
There is nothing boring about attracting your tribe. To a business owner growing a business, attracting your tribe can be just the electric spark, you need to be humming on all cylinders and making your mission and vision happen.
But you can’t just say the words. That would be about as good as someone not taking a shower for a week, throwing on some cologne or lipstick, and going on a first date. No amount of fancy exterior can cover what hasn’t been addressed.
And that’s why the very mention of values can make many of us roll our eyes. We all know someone who touted values but did something else completely. And if you spent any time in corporate america, it’s not uncommon for values to be what a company aspires to vs. what how it currently shows up. That means thousands and thousands of people have to be moved in a new direction. And frankly, that takes years, if there isn’t a changing of the guard during that time.
But you’re a micro-business. The little guys and gals have the advantage. Snap your fingers or tap your heels, and you can make a change real by making it a habit for you and your employees. And chances are you’ve already set some of your values and don’t even know it.
If you haven’t done it yet — it’s time to be intentional about declaring your values and living by them.
How do you set your values?
First, you find them. Then you create them.
Find your competitive advantage – what sets you apart from the crowd?
Ask your customers – how would they describe what they love about you?
Ask your team – what makes them want to come to work each day?
Look into your future – what traits will be required for your business to get where it wants to go?
Look at your personal values – what motivations and values have served and guided you as you started this business?
A value is simple – it’s a 1-5 word statement describing a way of being, thinking, and acting. A short one-sentence summary on how it shows up or an example can help you take it to the next level.
Cap it at five, but ideally, you’ll have four or fewer because it’s hard to hold and serve more than that at once. The chance of them just becoming words increases as you add more.
How do you use your values?
Integrate them into every decision. Hire, manage performance, and prioritize work and partnerships at the company based on them. Ask yourself — what decision honors what makes you different?
Ask your team how they can integrate them in the day-to-day at your company.
Integrate them into your marketing. They describe you at a glance, so a customer knows what to expect when they work with you. That means they have a place on your website, in brochures, pitch decks, workshops, social media; and where your content lands itself
Integrate them into your language. They describe what you’re about a level of detail where people will “get you” without being overwhelmed. Let values drive a conversation of where you connect and don’t connect with potential partners and customers
Stay accountable to them, remain open to feedback when people say you aren’t living them, and be publicly honest when you mess them up. It’s a journey, and people will always prefer an “oops” over incongruent words and actions.
Values are easy to put to paper, but they require a deep commitment.
When you commit, you attract the best customers, the best partners, and the best tribe to help you realize your dream.
Want to read more? Your values lock arm in arm with your why.
Jenny Erickson has been channeling her high energy to activate the ideas of leaders for decades. Her gift is at breaking complex ideas into simple actions, and she’s done that successfully for Fortune 500 companies as a leader, consultant, do-er, and most recently for micro-business owners. Which one are you?