One of the first things that I encourage my business consulting & coaching clients to think about when they come to me for help are their core values.
So…what exactly are core values, and why do you need them?
Your core values are a set of the guiding principles you find most important. You have them in both your personal life and business, and at times they may even overlap.
The core values you decide upon for your business will impact your business strategy and the way you impart your message to your audience. They also help you create a sense of purpose within your business and attract clients who share similar fundamental beliefs.
Perhaps most importantly, your business’s core values are there to guide your team members when you cannot be. Your core values inform your team about where they dedicate their time and energy. They also act as a framework for your team to work off of when it comes to making decisions that are aligned with the goals of the business. Wouldn’t it be great for your team to be 100% confident that they are making the decisions you would in the same situation?
As the owner and CEO of Olivia Jenkins Consulting, I know just how much sticking to my core values has helped my business grow, allowed me to build a solid base of loyal clients, and pushed me to step further into my CEO mindset. Here’s what we value over at OJC:
Growth — we are committed to growing our clients’ brands
Results — we pride ourselves on results-driven services
Service — we value the relationship we build with our clients
Transformation — we deliver a transformation that’s second-to-none
Trust — we take the trust our clients have placed in us seriously
Quality — the work we bring to the table is of the highest quality
These are core values that I firmly believe in and am committed to upholding, even if it means having to go the extra mile sometimes. For example…if a client needs me during a launch and I’m at the dinner table, I will leave to take their call. Why? Because one of my core values is service and I know that I have an opportunity in that moment to serve my client in a way that goes above and beyond and will be representative of that value.
Which brings me to my next point…your core values are only important if you actually bring them to life. This means that when you choose your core values, you have to be very intentional about why you’re choosing each one — and you must consider if you can truly commit to upholding them without being inauthentic in your business dealings.
Now you might be wondering how to not only choose the core values that are right for you and your business, but also bring those values to life.
Don’t worry — I’ll break it down for you.
DEFINING YOUR CORE VALUES
There is no “right” or “wrong” way to define the core values of your business. What matters more than anything is that these values are actually representative of the way you run your business and the beliefs you personally hold. Remember, it’s not just about coming up with your values — it’s about LIVING them via every decision that’s made in your business.
I suggest sitting down with a notebook or blank document, and involving your team (if you have one). Use these guiding questions to help you create a rough draft of your core values.
What’s important to you?
Are you very committed to providing excellent, round-the-clock service to your clients? Or maybe you care a lot about work-life balance and bringing fun into the workplace? Whatever it is, think about the qualities that light you up when it comes to your business. Like I mentioned before, one of my deepest commitments is to my clients — so basically ALL of Olivia Jenkins Consulting’s core values reflect that. Create a running list of these “important” qualities to work from.
What will help guide you when making decisions?
Think of your core values like a compass: they’ll point you in the right direction when you or your team members need to make a decision that doesn’t have a black-and-white answer.
- What are some values you naturally uphold without even realising?
Some values are so integral to who we are and how we operate that we uphold them without necessarily defining them. Think about your current company culture and what you prioritise, then draft a list of potential values based on your answer.
Once you have a rough list of core values in place, make sure they each fit the following criteria:
- Is it a phrase — more than one word?
- Can you objectively rate yourself on it?
- Could you use it to make a decision?
- When you consider the inverse, does it feel uncomfortable?
Aim for 3-6 core values total.
BRINGING YOUR CORE VALUES TO LIFE
This is the important part. Once you have your core values in place, you have to start bringing them to life like we discussed. Ultimately this means reflecting on your core values frequently and revising them as your business grows. Follow this four-step process to make bringing your core values to life easier:
- Write out your list of 3-6 core values.
- Put them somewhere you will see them often.
- Share them with your team and inner circle.
- Reflect on them frequently and refine them over the next 3-6 months.
This process will work when determining core values for both yourself and your business. Remember, it should feel easy to “live” your core values — after all, you’ve chosen them because you believe in them! If you have a hard time bringing your core values to life, it may be a sign to look over them and see if there’s room for revision.
If you’re not sure where to start, here’s a FREE list of 200 core values to get you brainstorming and on the right track. Core values are essential for any kind of business, and I recommend putting them in place ASAP.
One of the things I work on with my clients as a business & marketing consultant and business coach is creating core values that speak to them and that are easy to put into action. Interested in learning more? You can book a free 15 minute discovery call to see if working together is the right fit for you, or read all about my services here on my website.