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Before you can make decisions, establish workflows, develop processes, nurture your ideal customer relationships and generally build your business, you need to know your core values as the ‘rudder’ that steers your business ship.

Your values are the filter through which you see and relate with the world around you. They help you be congruent in what you say, think and do – both internally and externally. Your values set the undertone of your corporate culture. And your values have a direct affect on your marketing messaging and campaigns. They’re kind of a big deal.

For example, if your #1 value is relationships, then you will make time to develop relationships and do what is needed to grow them – like, communicate regularly, get to know your people (customers, team members, colleagues, vendors) and make sure your business processes and protocols support relationships.

If your #1 value is freedom, then you need to set your business up in such a way as to afford maximum freedom. There is another decision in that, by the way… is freedom only about you or about you, your business and/or your team members? In any case, you will likely want to make the most of technology, schedule your days so you are at peak performance, have cash reserves in the bank so you can make decisions on the fly and hire self-motivated team members.

In just those two examples, you can see how understanding your leading value(s) can completely change your business paradigms and approach to being successful in business on your own terms.

Some of My Values

To give you more examples from my world, here are some of my top values (in random order).

Gratitude. I am one lucky son of a gun and I know it. Now I do my part by being as prepared as I know how to be for what happens and what I think is going to happen. But I definitely have somebody watching over me to have the life I’m living now.

Smart people. I like being surrounded by people smarter than me, including my team, my mentors, my colleagues, thought leaders… I’m not too slow on the uptake but I appreciate learning from and being supported by folks who just have their A-game on point and challenge me to bring mine. I make sure I am in the company of really smart people as much as possible. (Have you met my cracker jack team yet???)

Freedom. Yeah, freedom means a whole lot – there’s nothing like the open road on my Harley or in my Slingshot. Being able to make big decisions spontaneously – like sending someone to law school or taking my family to Europe for a month – means more than words can say. And I want everybody to enjoy it too so I teach everything I know about business in our industry – I don’t hold back. (If I held back, I wouldn’t be feeling free now, would I…?)

Money. Now it’s not about the money – it’s about what the money can buy. We’re all adults here so let’s just put it right out there – business is about making money. If your business isn’t making money, it’s a hobby. Money on its own is meaningless, but money gets you stuff that makes life fun and enjoyable. It’s a lifestyle thing. Now my business might have an ‘off’ month now and then – seasons happen – but if I start noticing any negative trends, I am all over that like white on rice because I need to do some course correction.

Community. It’s not enough for me to have this great life if I can’t share it. I like having a good time and it’s just a lot better to do that with other people. Even more, to get to show others how to have it is like teaching someone how to fish so they can feed themselves for the rest of their lives too. Frankly, without you, my life would not feel as fulfilling as it does – whether or not we’ve had a conversation, we’re connected simply because you’re reading this, and that matters. Who knows where this can go?

Possibility. That was a good lead into valuing the potential that is just waiting out there to become opportunities. We don’t need to create possibilities – we just need to figure out which opportunities to pursue. Being open to possibility means not missing the good stuff that ‘know-it’all’ types never even see. It takes humility, a beginner’s mind and it’s not necessarily easy to keep a possibility mindset after so many years in our industry – but, even when I get ‘unexpected outcomes’, it’s always rewarding.

Identify Your Values

So let’s talk about your values, the guiding principles that dictate your behavior and actions in your business. Your values will help your team and your customers know how you see right from wrong, and how to make decisions to progress your business growth. Your values will act as a magnet, drawing in the right people and opportunities that will enrich and support your business. Your values are your business ‘soul’, and need to be part of every aspect of your business.

Pull out a sheet of paper right now and write out the first 10 values that pop into your mind in just five minutes. If a value doesn’t come to you in the first few minutes, it’s probably not a core value. Now, you might need to refine the values that come up but our goal here is that you identify your top values that are most immediately accessible in your mind. (If you want to get a starter list of potential values as inspiration from my office, let me know in the comments below or in a private message and we’ll get them to you.)

Once you have those top ten values, consider whether you want to refine any of them or, possibly, if anything is missing. If you need to make changes, make them. Then – and this is the important part, because this is what will inform your business growth going forward – cull that list down to just five values.

Sit with those overnight and see how they feel in the light of day the next morning. If they feel right, use them as the compass for how you’re making decisions in your business. Everything should align with those values going forward. (If not, it’s time to make some changes.) In fact, your values are so important you might want to print them on your business cards or on your website.

Maybe you’ve done an exercise around this in the past or maybe you already know what makes you tick. In that case, share them below! The more you state those publicly, the more you make them real for yourself and your business. So let’s hear them – thanks in advance for sharing!

Carl White, Chief Officer of Coolness
Article Originally Posted on LinkedIn

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