According to a survey, around 88% of employees believe that strong company culture is key to business success. But where should entrepreneurs begin when trying to develop a successful company culture that keeps people engaged, whether staff or customers?
To begin this process we need to go back to basics, and identify the values that define a business. Company culture is fostered through core values, so getting your values right is key to ongoing success. So how should we think about business values?
Business values are the philosophies, principles, and beliefs that drive your company and pave the way for good entrepreneurship. It’s important that every business decision you make is aligned with these values. And this isn’t just about keeping employees happy and presentation, data suggests that a good set of values are actually a predictor of company growth – so values, or the lack of them, can also impact the bottom line.
In this article is we explore why business values are important and how you should set about deciding upon them.
There are many reasons why business values are important for entrepreneurs including, here are some of the key ones.
They improve accountability
Business values ensure that every decision your employees make is in accordance with your company’s core sentiments. This means employees are more likely to make the right decisions and contribute towards business goals.
When every employee – from entry level to board level – is aware of your business values, they become accountable to those values and any decision can be weighed against them with the question ‘does this decision reflect our values?’
Employees are more likely to succeed when they know their company is working towards a set of values, especially if those values are values they can believe in. Understanding this means employees know that the decisions they make, and the work they do, is making a difference.
They provide a focal point
Technology has sped up economies globally, bringing about a state of near perpetual change and flux.
This environment can be challenging – especially for entrepreneurs looking to grow new businesses and keep up with fast moving markets. Having a core set of values centres your business and ensures you can move forward coherently. They give your business moral direction and help it meet the challenges, they give your business something solid amidst all the change.
They help you stand out from competition
Company values are the blueprint of your business and serve as a point of difference from competitors. As well as helping employees act in your best interests, business values also ensure that clients understand what your business stands for and what your core aims are.
When a potential customer faced with two similar companies and products, a good set of values that resonate could be the deciding factor, that converts a lead into a client or customer.
Deciding upon your business values
To begin developing your values, you first need to think about the stakeholders in your business, from customers and employees, to shareholders and partners, and ask yourself, what are the values that bring all these people together.
With your stakeholders in mind, you can then start condensing the many things your business stands for and is trying to achieve, into a core set of values. There are many approaches you can take to this, but all will require an understanding of where your business is currently at. An outsiders perspective can be useful here, and many companies will bring in a consultant to bring a fresh perspective to this project, or alternatively a customer survey might be undertaken to try and understand current perceptions.
With some insight into the values currently associated with your business, you can then begin to consider the values you want to be associated with and the steps you’ll need to take to get there.
The key thing to do is ensure your values have a purpose and prompt genuine action. How can you change your business – whether HR policies or customer service policies – to reflect your new values. The values should act as a constant prompt for positive change and a constant reference point. If there is no change in light of the values, then the exercise will feel hollow.
Getting your value right is crucial then, as they will define your business in the eyes of employees, customers and others, as well as underscoring your strategy and aims.