A year ago, Marie started her online business as a virtual assistant. As a stay-at-home mom, she loves that she gets to be there for her children. But, like many online entrepreneurs, she’s been struggling to grow her client list and earn a bigger income.
Marie recently sought the help of a business coach to help her overcome this obstacle. Immediately, her coach advised her to sit down and define her brand’s core values. Not really understanding how it could solve her problem, Marie decided to give it a go anyway. After all, this woman had tons of successful clients – she must have been doing something right!
Not long after that, Marie’s business began to grow rapidly — she had more than enough clients and was earning twice what she had been!
Blown away by her own amazing success, she asked her coach what happened. The woman explained, “When you work on defining your core values, you understand what sets your brand apart. Once you know what makes your business unique, you start attracting more of your ideal clients.”
Sure, 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 display them on their “company culture” posters.
But the truth is that, as Marie has learned, having a deep understanding of your core values can jumpstart and support the success of your business.
Let’s have a look at how to define core values that will set your brand apart and benefit your business as a whole.
8 benefits of defining your core values
The exercise of defining your core values in itself is one thing, but the real benefits come from using these core values as a framework for your business. When you align your business and marketing efforts with your core values, you’ll experience a renewed sense of purpose and direction.
1. use your core values to choose the right projects
Your core values can be the basis for vital business decisions like which projects to take on and which ones to pass up. For example, let’s say 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.
2. knowing your core values helps you make decisions
Here’s an excellent quote for entrepreneurs to keep in mind when choosing core values: “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 suddenly become 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.
3. let your principles inspire your team and partners
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 and partners. 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 Tracy, a body positive influencer and blogger, is asked to partner with beauty brands, she first seeks to understand their core values. One particular company defined their core value as being “non-judgmental and inclusive of all body types”.
The word non-judgmental had an especially powerful impact on Tracy. She found it so inspiring, she opted to work with that brand over several others despite the fact that the other brands offered her higher compensation for her work.
4. allow your core values to attract your ideal client
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 Vivian, an online fashion consultant. Once she defined one of 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 wanted to serve.
5. build an energized team by focusing on your principles
Once your core values are clear, you’re going to attract much more than your ideal clients. You’ll notice that it’s much easier to form a team that works well for your brand. For example, if you know your most important value is “taking action”, 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. You’ll look for problem solvers, creative types and confident action takers.
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.
6. encourage customer loyalty with your values
Even today, some entrepreneurs believe you have to choose between profit 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! As you probably know, 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.
7. 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, they can come to a place of mutual respect.
8. 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 your business ends up becoming 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.
making core values part of your business
Your core values should be infused in everything you do for your business. It’s a good idea to write them down on a poster or create a screensaver for your laptop. The more you welcome these core values, the more your business will align with your purpose. And that, my friend, is how you create a business you love and in line with who you are.
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!
experience the power of defining your core values
Now that you understand how defining your core values contributes to a thriving business, it’s time to take action!
Sign up below to receive your free workbook, “Core Values: How To Stand Out Authentically“. As you work through the 30 pages of pure goodness, you’ll identify a set of core values that deeply reflect your brand, you’ll craft a meaningful mission statement that conveys exactly what your brand stands for, and you’ll learn how to infuse your core values into your marketing.