Why Values Matter For Doing Business

Why Values Matter

Some businesses spend a lot of time putting together a mission statement including their overall vision and their company values. This might seem like overkill for a small business. However, in this article I hope to persuade you of why values matter for any type of business and why you might like to take the time to think about yours and the impact they could have.

You don’t necessarily have to display your values as a list on a page (although our values appear on our FAQ page). What is more important is that whenever potential customers interact with your brand these values come through and aren’t contradicted by what you say or do. It can be helpful to write something out for yourself, even if you don’t plan to publish it. While single words may work as a summary, you might need phrases or even paragraphs to communicate the true intent of your value statements.Getting it clear in your own mind what you stand for and what matters to you can have real benefits for you and your business. 

Values words crossing each other - illustration for why values matter

Your Values Can Differentiate Your Brand

Creating a unique brand can feel like a daunting task. If the services you offer are similar to your competitors then you need to find ways to differentiate yourself so that customers buy from you instead of them. One aspect of your brand that can be very personal to you is your set of values. Think about things that you would or wouldn’t be willing to do. How do you think it is appropriate to act? Is there a particular segment of society that you identify closely with that others may lack the sensitivity or experience to relate to?

Finding the right market for your product or services can be about things like price and the customer experience. But, what drives your choices for how you go about them? Behind the way that we do business is our set of values and beliefs. A lot of the time these are unconscious, even though they are constantly acting as filters for how we understand and relate to the world around us. If we can become more conscious of our values, we may find our market more easily.

Values Connect with People

It is easier to attract the right kind of community for your business if they can easily see and identify with your values. Especially if you are built very strongly around a particular value such as being carbon neutral, you will attract likeminded people to your brand if your values are obvious and visibly adhered to.  People naturally gravitate towards those that think like them. So, you can use your values to help you stand out and connect with your tribe. Obviously, you have to be sincere, or you will be found out and probably also called out! Faking an interest in a cause or a set of values for the sake of trying to build a community is a bad idea.

Values Can Drive Your Motivation

Another reason why values matter is that they can help to drive our motivation. There are various reasons why we can become demotivated. One way to sustain motivation is to stay in touch with things that we are passionate about. Our values help to define who we are and they help to give a focus to our interests and energy. Think of those who have spent years of the lives protesting for change in society such as the suffragettes or those campaigning for equality between people of different colours. They don’t give up easily because it matters to them.

If we can find ways to incorporate our values into our businesses then that passion that we invest can help to keep driving it forwards. When you can identify people who you believe need your approach to a problem then you are less likely to give up when it gets hard. You aren’t then just flogging a commodity; you are offering something you believe in for a reason.

Making Decisions Driven by Values

There are times when we need to make difficult business decisions. It might be about how we spend our money, what products we offer or what things we decide to give up on. Having a clear awareness of our values can help us to have a framework for making those decisions. For example, take a look at the chart below (click to enlarge):

Our values come into play at various points in this process. The purpose and goals of our business as well as the culture are all informed (consciously or otherwise) by our values and beliefs. We may be able to save ourselves time and money by cutting off some decision processes early on as to go ahead could go against what we believe and hold dear. If we decide to go ahead anyway, then we must question whether those really were our values or not, whether we are maintaining our integrity or if something else is going on.

Accountability & Maintaining Integrity

Customers relate more easily to brands that share what matters to them. They like integrity and passion, which is why values matter so much. Our beliefs and values are at the heart of our personality. Yes, they can change. However, if we sit loosely to something or jump on a bandwagon for the sake of profit rather than passion then our integrity will come into question. Having our values out there, in written form and demonstrated by our behaviour, makes us in a way accountable to the market. Are we who we claim to be?

Knowing our values can help to keep us on track and be true to ourselves and our brands. Living them out consistently can be a powerful attracting force for our target market. Ignoring them or changing them on a whim can alienate us from them. People like consistency and reliability. They don’t like to have to keep questioning and thinking things through. It makes it easier for potential customers to relate to us if we can maintain our integrity and be true to what we say we are. 

Maintaining our commitment to our values may at times be difficult. Sticking with our values may mean accepting lower profits or paying higher fees to suppliers. The authenticity of our values is tested when keeping them starts to hurt. If we shy away from such challenges, it may turn out that our only real values were making money and surviving. We would be better off not claiming other values if the truth is profit at all cost.

Why Values Matter For Business - Summary:

Do you care if companies you buy from have similar values to you? Would finding out that they had lied about some ethical approach they claimed to support put you off them in future? Are there brands that you struggle to relate to because you feel that they have different beliefs and priorities to you? These and other related concerns are all reasons why values matter for doing business. Working out and living out your values can help you with:

  • Differentiation
  • Connection
  • Motivation
  • Decision-Making
  • Integrity

© Joe Lenton, Focused Professional, March 2024

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