Veronica was a stay-at-home mom with an online business as a virtual assistant. She loved that she got to be there for her children, but she was struggling to grow her client list and earn a bigger income.
A mentor advised Veronica to sit down and define her brand’s core values. While she thought the exercise was silly, Veronica listened to her mentor and did it. Not long after that, her business began to grow rapidly—she had more than enough clients and was earning twice what she had been.
When she asked her mentor about it, the older woman explained, “When you realize your values, you understand what sets your brand apart. It’s easier to market once you know what makes your business unique.”
Defining your brand’s core values might seem like a pointless assignment best left for corporate businesses that prefer to use the latest buzzwords and jargon, but understanding your core values has so many wonderful benefits for entrepreneurs…
Use Core Values to Choose the Right Projects
Your core values can be the cornerstone upon which you make vital business decisions like which projects to take on and which ones to pass up. For example, you know one of your core values is integrity. You have the option to partner with another entrepreneur on a joint venture. This entrepreneur is well-known for hugely successful launches…but they also have a tendency to release shoddy products and duck customer support issues.
Knowing that your core value is “integrity” can help you see the opportunity in a different light. It might mean that you can refuse to work with the other entrepreneur or that you put safeguards in place to guarantee the final product is high-quality and customer support issues are resolved in a timely manner.
Simplify Decisions by Knowing Your Core Values
An excellent quote for entrepreneurs to keep in mind when choosing core values is this one: “When everything is a priority, nothing is a priority.” The idea behind the quote is that not everything can be of equal importance. If it is, making decisions quickly becomes difficult and frustrating.
But when you have core values to guide you, decisions are easier. That’s because you’ve clearly defined what matters most and you can focus exclusively on that. For example, if the major value behind your brand is “personal growth through learning” then it makes sense that you’ll need to leave space for you and members of your team to experiment, try new things, and even fail occasionally.
Let Your Principles Inspire Your Team
Just as core values can help you see who a clear fit for your business is, they can also be incredibly powerful at inspiring your team. That’s because your crew isn’t just looking for another paycheck—they want to work on projects that excite them with brands that are an amazing fit for their skills.
When Sarah, a body positive influencer and blogger, is asked to partner with beauty brands, she first seeks to understand their core values. One company defined their core value as being “non-judgmental and inclusive of all body types”.
The word non-judgmental resonated in Sarah’s heart. She found it so inspiring she opted to work with that brand over several others, despite the fact they could offer her less compensation for her work.
Attract Your Ideal Clients with Your Core Values
As you get clear on what values your brand stands for, it also becomes easier to attract your ideal client. That’s because you’ll naturally begin to showcase testimonials, content, and case studies that appeal to your target market.
That’s what happened to Diana, who is an online fashion consultant. Once she defined her values as “confident and creative self-expression”, she updated her website and marketing materials to reflect this. Within just a few months, she was attracting the type of clients she’d always longed to serve.
It’s not just ideal clients that are attracted to you once your principles are clear. You’ll also find it easier to form a team that works well for your brand. For example, if you know your most important value is “taking action” then you’ll empower your team to make decisions on the go and encourage them to boldly innovate.
As a result of knowing this core value, you’ll begin to evaluate potential team members through this lens. Even if you’re just looking for a virtual assistant to work part-time for your business for a few hours, understanding your core values can simplify your search and make it easy for you to determine if you’ve found the right person for the job.
Encourage Customer Loyalty with Your Values
Some entrepreneurs believe you must choose between making a buck and making a difference in the world. But there are hundreds of businesses proving that’s not true every single day.
One of these brands is TOMS. The popular shoe company has a “one-for-one” policy. For every pair of shoes purchased, the brand gives a pair to someone in an impoverished country that would not be able to afford the shoes otherwise.
By doing this, the business doesn’t have to make a choice between turning a profit and giving back. The most exciting part of this is that customers are not only supportive of this business model—they’re loyal to the brand as a result.
Core Values Unite Your Team
In an ideal world, every person working on or in your business would get along perfectly. They’d always see eye-to-eye and know exactly which steps to take to keep things flowing harmoniously.
Unfortunately, that’s rarely the case with team members. There will be disagreements and controversy at times. The best way to deal with this conflict is for team members to focus on what they do agree on, namely your core values.
For example, your core value might be “creating outstanding customer experiences”. Now your team members might define that “outstanding customer experience” differently but if they both agree that it’s the essential ingredient to doing business then they can come to a place of mutual respect.
Your Principles Make Your Business Stand Out
Sometimes, it can be difficult to decide on your core values. It might be tempting to look around at what other entrepreneurs are using and borrow from their ideas. But the problem with this approach is that then your business becomes lost in the crowd.
Smart entrepreneurs understand that their core values help them stand out in a crowded marketplace. What makes your business different is exactly what’s going to call to your ideal customer and inspire them to choose your brand over your competitor’s brand.
Understand that Core Values Can Change
As your brand grows and evolves, you may find that the core values that fit it perfectly three, five, or ten years ago are no longer relevant. Don’t try to hold onto these outdated values that aren’t serving you, your business, your team, or your customers.
Instead, be willing to step back and look at what you really want to stand for. You may find that your most important value now is creativity and innovation. Or you might discover that your most important value is transparency and communication.
Remember that there are no right or wrong core values. It’s just about expressing who your brand is and sharing that with your customers, your team, and ultimately, the world!