In this first of our series of blog posts for freelancers and small businesses, we’re going to discuss one of the most important (if not thee most important) aspects of your business: your values and your purpose.
Your business values are the core standards that guide the way you do business. They sum up what your business stands for, they influence every part of its operation and drives the why and how you do things. Your values are your framework. Whether you are a business of one or you have a whole workforce behind you, values provide a unified vision. And although strategies change and businesses pivot, your values will usually remain steadfast.
“Our value is the sum of our values.” – Joe Batten.
Think of your values as the foundation of your business. You wouldn’t build a house without first doing the groundwork to ensure the foundation was solid and durable, otherwise your house would crumble. It’s no different in business.
Values are often overlooked, cobbled on as an afterthought. But the quote by Batten perfectly illustrates that the value of your business lies in the values it holds. And this is how connection takes place. Your audience will be drawn to your brand because you believe and operate on a set of values they also share. And this shared connection between brand and customer is is how brand loyalty is built.
Defining your core values
It’s well worth taking the time to delve in, explore your values and establish and what you stand for – both personally and as a business.
- On a piece of paper or on your laptop, right down all the words/phrases floating round your head. Think about what you believe in, what you’re passionate about, what lights you up. Don’t think too much about this – just empty your conscious mind.
- Come back to your list later. Go through and circle the words and phrases that resonate the most with you.
- Start grouping similar words and phrases together. Pretty soon themes will start to emerge. Can you pick one umbrella word to summarise each theme?
- How many words have you got? Can you stripe the list down to 5 words?
This words you are left with – these are your values.
If you are more of a visual person, you can create a vision board or a Pinterest board with images that represent your core values.
Knowing your purpose
Leadership guru, Simon Sinek, talks about how all successful businesses follow the ‘Golden Circle.’
Instead of starting with what you do, start with why you do it. Then move onto how you do it. What your business does should be incidental. As Sinek puts it, “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
It’s the emotional resonance behind your work that propels your audience into action. For example, if you make candles, customer won’t necessarily buy them just because they smell nice. Perhaps the scent evokes a fond memory or makes them feel a certain way. Perhaps your lavender candle reminds a customer of how her grandmother used to smell and she purchases to feel close to her grandma. So you aren’t selling a candle, you’re selling a feeling of connection.
Your why is integral to your business. It’s your story, your purpose. Your why makes you stand out in a crowded market and connect with your audience so you can make the most impact.
If you want to go a little deeper