Great companies aren’t only about making money. They also have a strong brand identity shaped by values.
Core values – principles your company follows in all aspects of operations – are vital. Strong core values act as a cornerstone and influence decision-making by providing a roadmap for future decisions. They help you to recruit the right employees, attract customers, remain accountable, create strong business partnerships, and serve your customers better. Having well-defined values help you lead efficiently and gives the rest of your team structure.
Building a values-driven company doesn’t have to be difficult. Just follow these four steps to set your company up for success:
Define your own personal values
Before launching your company, define your own set of personal values. What do you believe in? What do you stand for? It’s difficult to create core values for your company if your personal values are unclear. If these sets of values match, your company is that much stronger.
So, what are some examples of core values? Things like integrity, self-discipline, and creativity are all great examples of core values. Much like company core values, your personal values are there to guide behavior and choice. As a company leader, your values soak into everything you do. Get them right and you’ll be efficient, disciplined and focused in your decision-making.
Leave them undefined or vague, and you’ll constantly find yourself floundering. Your personal core values help you select relationships and friendships and wisely manage your personal resources such as time and finances. They are what keep you true to yourself.
Many people think they understand their own values, but you may not really know them until they are articulated clearly in writing. So, take some time to define your personal core values — then put them down on paper.
Define your company’s core values
What does your company value over revenue? Innovation, product quality, fun, and social responsibility are examples of things your company may value beyond making a profit. Ask your team to participate in the brainstorming as founders aren’t the only ones who should mold the business belief system. Your employees are caretakers of the company’s culture, and therefore should be part of the value formation process.
Consider that your company values arise from your mission. Create your mission statement and your values evolve naturally from that. Know what each of your core values means to your business before you begin, so that as your business starts to take shape, you can return to those core values when tricky decisions arise.
Any company will face adversity. But when your business has enduring core values, customers see that, appreciate it, refer it, and ultimately spend their money on something that speaks to their own values.
Stay true to your core values when making any business decision
Discipline yourself to keep to your core values, no matter what. It will almost always be less expensive to run your business a different way, but decisions that comprise core values will hurt your company.
Never underestimate the fact that customers deeply respect that you practice what you preach. Consider that not every decision should be based on how it affects the bottom line. For example, choosing to source materials from local, high quality and recycled resources and using sustainable packaging is more expensive versus conventional sources. Yet if the environment is part of your company values, then this decision is the right one.
At Green Kid Crafts, we believe that as a green company with the core values of environmental sustainability and integrity, it’s natural that we are committed to ensuring that all our activities have little environmental impact. Our products and packaging are made from recyclable and recycled materials and we offset 100% of the carbon dioxide generated by our business to help fund the development of renewable energy projects across the globe.
Further, our core values of promoting STEAM education, fun, and creativity guide our work to foster the next generation of creative leaders, scientists, and artists with our STEAM science and art kit subscription program. Regular customer surveys indicate that these core values put into action are very important to our customers and a driving factor in their purchasing behavior.
Embody your company’s values
Remind your customers why they should buy from you over competitors by dependably messaging your core values through storytelling, marketing, advertising, and through affiliate channels and partnerships.
Customers will understand that you strive to provide them with a values-driven product or service and be left feeling good about their decision to spend their money with you. Promote and communicate openly about how each of your values guide key company decisions. This helps strengthen the meaning and significance behind each value you hold.
For example, at Green Kid Crafts, we weave stories about our company values throughout our social media channels, email marketing activities, product packaging, blog posts, and affiliate marketing creative. In this way, our core values have become associated with our brand.
Ultimately, core values are the heart and soul of your company. However, they need to be put into action to mean anything. You must live and breathe them; and you must make them yours. At Green Kid Crafts, our commitment to being an environmentally sustainable, green business is at the heart of our company and a part of every aspect of our work. When everyone on your team makes that conscious effort to communicate and embody your core values, there’s no limit to what you will achieve.
Penny Bauder, a mom of two and an environmental scientist with a passion for STEAM education, is the founder of Green Kid Crafts, a green company that provides kids with convenient and sustainable STEAM activities through the company’s subscription program. The company has shipped over 2 million packages around the world designed to help inspire the next generations of environmental leaders. Penny was a winner of Entrepreneur’s “Build it Like a Woman” Inspiring Woman in Business Award, the Startup Nation Leading Moms in Business Competition and a recipient of the Female Founder Fellowship at the Founder’s Institute. She holds a B.A. in Environmental Management and an M.S. in Environmental Science.