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Crafting Your Startup's Company Values

“Your personal core values define who you are, and a company's core values ultimately define the company's character and brand." - Tony Hsieh

We have previously written about the importance of company values. Briefly, having a core set of company values makes it easier for a company to make decisions, quickly communicate principles to clients and customers, and hire like-minded talent. For startups, company values often help them differentiate themselves from their competitors since they define the company's character and brand.

Crafting company values

If you are part of a startup that is currently crafting their company values, you may be wondering what company values inspire and engage your workforce? How many company values should our company have?

In an early-stage company, there is no golden rule when it comes to creating a list of values. Examples of core values can be anything. We list a few examples below:

  • honesty

  • decisiveness

  • innovation

  • integrity

  • diversity

  • inclusivity

  • quality

  • leadership

  • teamwork

  • continuous learning

  • data-driven

  • customer-centric

Many companies also have their values as partial statements or complete statements. Consider the following examples:

  • We are customer-centric

  • We promote team growth

  • We value and develop our employees diverse talents

  • We win with diversity

  • We care about communities

  • We embrace everyone

  • We deliver exceptional service

  • Always improve yourself

  • Do the right thing

  • We embrace change

  • We build connections

  • We have fun when we work

If your startup is beginning to craft your company values, you may be wondering where to start. Below we list several steps to help you get started.

Crafting your company values

1) Assemble your team

We suggest that you start by asking people that are currently involved in your company; co-founders, investors, current employees, and/or interns for ideas. If you are small company, include all of your employees. If you have a big team or if you are part of a mature company which is revamping their company values, assemble a team of individuals that understand your culture and the employees really well. It is important to remember that defining values is not just a management issue: it is bottom up just as much as it is top down. Corporate values need to be relevant to every employee, not just management or one department; hence, it is important to include people at all levels of the organization.

"Determine what behaviors and beliefs you value as a company.....these behaviors and beliefs should be so essential to your core that you don’t even think of it as a culture." - Brittany Forsyth

2) Compile a list and then condense

Compile a list of values and start narrowing down the list to 3-6 values that truly describe your organization’s beliefs. We recommend that as you narrow down your list, keep the values simple and avoid cliches. We all have heard the phrases "think big" or "be curious". As tempting as it is to use these as your company values, your company values should be unique to your organization.

3) Showcase your company values

Once you have created your company values, make sure to showcase them! This goes beyond verbiage on your website and company handbook. Values need to be integrated into your organization's day-to-day. For example, the values can be integrated into recruitment and management strategies. Candidates should learn about your company’s values from day one. You can use examples of how company values are expressed in day-to-day interactions or you can ask candidates to think about times that they have demonstrated your company’s core values. It is important to remember that at the end of the day, you want to hire people that align with your company.

"Organizational culture is the sum of values and rituals which serve as 'glue' to integrate the members of the organization." - Richard Perrin

For current employees, company values can be incorporated into the employee performance management process by integrating them into existing feedback and recognition programs. If employees are modelling company values, they should be recognized. If employees are not displaying the behaviours that are important in your company, they should be given feedback.

Not only do company values help determine who wants to work for you, but it also impacts who wants to buys from you. One study found that 63 percent of consumers say they want to buy products and services from companies that have a mission and vision that resonates with their own value and belief systems.

Core values also have a measurable impact on scalability and profit. Brands with a high sense of purpose increased in value by 175 percent over a 12-year period (this was above the comparable 86 percent median growth rate).

Now, it's your time to get started

It’s your turn to start the process! It may seem overwhelming at first, but crafting your values early on is worth the investment. Have questions about the process? Contact iota consultants - we offer a workshop that can help you uncover your corporate values and our team of business consultants want to help you achieve your goals!


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