As you enter (and conquer) the world of young entrepreneurship, it’s important to understand your company’s values. Why? And what are small business values? How do you find yours?
WHAT ARE “SMALL BUSINESS VALUES?”
You have personal values, whether you realize it or not. A few examples could be:
- Honesty with your friends
- Honoring your parents
- Good study habits
- Community service
And just like personal values, there are small business values. These might include:
- Excellent customer service
- Social entrepreneurship
- Embracing progress
Small business values guide you along your young entrepreneurial path. They help you choose team members who share the same values. They’ll help you create your brand and grow as a company. And they’ll shape you into the business leader you are meant to be.
Think of your small business values as the guideposts on your journey. They point you in the right direction to reach your destination. They help you make decisions. Hopefully, they keep you out of trouble!
HOW TO FIND YOUR SMALL BUSINESS’S VALUES
You’re probably thinking that your small business will excel in all areas of entrepreneurship. You’ll offer the best customer service. Be transparent with your partners and investors. Earn trust and respect from your team. Create the highest quality products. Never compromise on integrity. Honor tradition but always progress forward. And so on.
That’s great! Aim high!
But it helps to narrow your small business’s values into a core set that everyone (including you) can follow. You can’t be everything to all people all the time. But by carefully choosing a few truly core values, you ensure you always do your best.
INNOVATION AND EXPERIMENTATION
This isn’t just a core value that should be embraced by tech companies. By definition, progress moves forward. If you are an entrepreneur who’s always looking for ways to improve, then innovation and experimentation might be among your core values. This includes staying humble enough to embrace mistakes so you can learn from them and always finding new ways to solve problems.
Service industries build their reputations on integrity. What does that mean? They’re reliable. Trustworthy. They do what they say they’ll do, and they do it well. And while no one’s perfect, they take full responsibility for mistakes and accidents. An example of integrity as a core small business value would be, “We’ll make it right.”
Social entrepreneurship is on the rise thanks to young entrepreneurs like you. A great core value for any field you enter is to give back to your community. This can include anything from donating a percentage of your profits to using only ethically sourced materials.
Creativity is the core of problem-solving. Restaurants that had creativity in their core values were able to embrace the changes that came with the COVID lockdown in 2020. They offered grab-and-go meals. They signed up with services like Uber Eats and Door Dash. They switched to “ghost kitchens.” Some even sold their fixtures and furniture!
When creativity is a core value, you let everyone know that you’ll always find a way to keep going. No matter what.
PASSION AND SINGLE FOCUS
Have you ever heard the phrase, “jack of all trades, master of none?” It refers to someone who’s a little bit good at a lot of things, but not really good at anything in particular.
Passion and focus as core business values show that you’re not trying to be all things to all people. You have one thing you do, and you’re passionate about it. This shows commitment, drive, and perseverance in your chosen field.
What’s the point of putting in the time and effort to launch a startup if you’re not having fun? “Fun” can mean a lot of different things as far as small business values go. It can mean not taking yourself so seriously that you come across as arrogant or grumpy. But it can also mean embracing a spirit of silliness and friendliness. (Remember the so-called “Chicken Sandwich War” of 2019?) Adding fun to your core values means you recognize that there’s more to life than work and profit.
Where would a business be without customers? Customer service values mean understanding and respecting the people who give you their money. Pay attention to what customers say and what they want. Be polite when dealing with customers, even the angry ones. Especially the angry ones! Do your best to go above and beyond expectations. Under-promise and over-deliver.
If your small business includes other people working with or for you, that’s your team. And as the saying goes, “Teamwork makes the dream work.” It’s a little silly, we know. But there’s truth in that overused phrase. When your team members feel valued and respected, they are much more likely to give you their best work. Listen to everyone’s ideas. Make sure each person understands their role in the company. Give everyone a chance to shine.
Successful young entrepreneurship includes strong leadership. And the best young entrepreneurs are those who understand that leadership isn’t bullying, bulldozing over others, or demanding blind devotion. The best leaders in business and in life are those who inspire. Learn how to command respect by being someone people can look up to. And remember that leadership isn’t reserved for your team. Be a leader when pitching to investors and dealing with customers, too. When you include this quality in your core values, you’re taking responsibility for your startup and everything it does.
Still not sure how to narrow down and define your small startup’s core values? Check out a few from some of the biggest companies in the world:
Your small business values reflect your belief in how a company should be run. They are part of everything you do for your company, from marketing to hiring. The values you choose will shape your startup’s culture going forward and for a long time to come.
Florida’s young entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for a Kantner Foundation college scholarship. Learn more by clicking here!