How to align your personal values with your start-up
Over the last few years, there’s been a lot of talk about the importance of value-driven business models and building positive company cultures. If you’re looking for a different way to run a business that doesn’t use a purely cost-centric approach, aligning your personal values with your business values is key. But how do you do it?
Having a strong set of personal values is one thing but implementing them consistently and unapologetically in the commercial world is quite another. If all you’re doing is putting motivational quotes on the wall to inspire your team, or paying lip service to whatever you think your customers want to hear, forget about it.
If you’re serious about making a statement, say, about climate change, you need to actually walk the talk. So, rethink your supply chain to lower your environmental impact, choose like-minded people to work with and put on truly sustainable events, and promote volunteering for the benefit of the planet. Running a successful, values-aligned company is no mean feat – it takes dedication and hard work.
Why are values so important in a business?
We all have our own personal values. It’s what defines us in our private lives as much as it does in business. In an ideal world, our core values can be expressed through the work that we do. For anyone thinking of starting their own business, the core values of any business should be established and articulated right from the very start. “If an organization’s culture can be thought of as its operating system, then its values are the boot code. Values provide a blueprint for how people in an organization make decisions,” says one recent report.
Making the commitment to stay true to yourself while running a business can be a big step. It means that you are openly declaring your principles and the standards you are choosing to hold yourself accountable for. Not everyone will agree with your values, and you need to be OK with that too.
Holding firm on your principles and operating with authenticity makes it clear to the market who you are and what your brand is all about. You may have heard the phrase ‘your vibe attracts your tribe’ – it means that those who share your values will find you and follow you. They’re your target market. Another quote from a famous TED talk says that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” The ‘why’ are your values.
5 steps to align your values
If you are passionate about offering an authentic business proposition to the world that honours your principles and goes beyond the pure profit motive, you must ensure that your personal and business values are in alignment. Here are five steps you can follow to help you achieve this.
1. Identify your core values
Ask yourself what is most important in your life. Look beyond basic human needs and try to crystallise what you must have in your life to experience fulfilment and joy. Meditate, if you can, to find out what it is that you truly stand for – here are some useful exercises that may help. Then write it all down in as much detail as possible.
2. Publish your set of values
Draw up a set of non-negotiable core values that your business will live by and put them in places where everyone can see them – on your website, careers page, and even as posters on the office wall. Here’s a great example. Be upfront about what you stand for to maintain your authenticity.
3. Use your values in decision making
Let your core values guide you in decision making in business, whatever the circumstances are. Here are four ways this can be done. Be prepared to find this difficult; it can be tricky in situations where your head and your heart disagree. If this happens, honour your values and let your heart lead the way.
4. Practice your values daily
Ensure that your everyday actions and interactions at work embody your stated core values. You and your team must live and breathe them as part of your company culture. Consider how your brand – the marketing, team, services, policies – is in constant alignment to ensure business success.
5. Pursue your highest nature
The continued pursuit of your truth will not only provide inspiration to others but create a strong foundation for yourself for real success. Let your values drive your personal and business life and build a powerful identity that feels right for you, making you feel happy and content.
Achieving happiness and fulfilment
If you live your life and business in accordance with your inner truth, you are in alignment: your values match. On the other hand, when what you do and what you believe don’t match up, this can be a source of disconnect, stress and conflict. Perhaps you can’t even put your finger on why things just feel wrong.
You may be making business decisions simply on the basis of time, money or convenience that don’t align with your value system. Rather than feeling good about being a clever business person, can you feel the unease this causes? Whether you feel mentally blocked or physically drained by your decision, it’s clear that your decision didn’t come from the right place. Remind yourself that you have a choice every day whether or not to act with authenticity, which is why it is so important to identify your core values and stick to them come what may. Don’t give away your power.
Remember that being in sync with your beliefs fills you with the courage of your convictions, meaning you can act with greater confidence and effectiveness in all areas of your life. It’s like opening the door to release your full potential. When you’re in flow, everything is easier to accomplish and more fun to do. It’s the only way to achieve happiness and fulfilment in business and in your home life.
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