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Mike Conkey
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Mike Conkey   My Press Releases

How To Define Your Business Foundation and Core Values

Published on 3/14/2018
For additional information  Click Here

Define your foundation, your core values

Define Your Foundation

"It's the job of any business owner to be clear about the company's nonnegotiable core values. They're the riverbanks that help guide us as we refine and improve on performance and excellence." ~ Danny Meyer DISSC ModelThe first step of the DISSC process is the "D" – Define. Start by defining the essentials that will guide all your marketing decisions. This gives you a clear foundation that keeps you from getting distracted by opportunities that don't align with your true business goals. It keeps you and your organization on track; in other words, you stay true to yourself. These essentials may change over time as your business grows or adapts to market conditions. When there are major changes calling for it, you should return to this first step of the process and re-define your goals since it's the foundation for everything else.  

What Are Your Core Values?

Your core values are principles or beliefs that are at the center of your organization and guide your decision-making. No matter what changes there are in the market - government regulations, the tastes of customers, or anything else in the ever-changing world - these core values remain the same and provide consistency (although as mentioned before, they may be redefined over time, but only with careful consideration). Core values serve several purposes. They clarify who you are and communicate to people outside your organization what you do and how you do it. They guide you in important business decision-making. They are the essential tenets that keep you true to yourself. A core value is usually expressed as an adjective that describes some quality of your organization. Examples include:

  • Dependability
  • Innovation
  • Above and Beyond
  • Irreverent
  • Results-Oriented
  • Anti-Corporate
  • Sense of Humor
  • Original
  • Outrageous
  • Commitment to Success
  • Traditional
  • Customer-Focused
  • Hospitality
  • Worldwide

How to Define Your Core Values

Defining your core valuesIt's not so much about choosing or creating core values, but rather discovering the values that are already there, leading your decisions. You should be looking for the values that truly lie behind your organization and what it does. Here are a few questions to help you discover yours:

  • What have been our greatest achievements?
  • What are common rules my organization follows?
  • What am I most proud of?
  • What makes you as a business owner most satisfied?
  • How do you want people to feel about your organization?
  • What is most important to you?

The answers to these questions may be full sentences or scenarios. Pare them down to the simplest word or phrase, or the word or phrase that they represent. For example, "Our greatest achievement is that we've never lost a client." The one quality behind this sentence could be "reliability" or "ongoing value."

Redefining Your Core Values

We mentioned earlier that a time may come when you have to redefine your core values. It might be useful to occasionally review your core values and see if they need an update. There may have been new developments in your business, such as new strengths you've gained, or you may need to adjust to external conditions that have changed. The process of redefining core values is best done as a group. Gather team members and ask for their feedback. Present them with your original values and ask them if they feel they're still relevant. You can then repeat the process of discovery as a group.

Look at Your Products

Another element of defining of the essentials of your business is to look at your most successful products and services. Start by looking at the range of the products you offer. This could say something about the type of organization you are. For example, the foundation of your business might be that you offer the widest range of choices for your customers. On the other hand, you may be highly specialized. Look at which products and services are the most profitable. This is likely the area where you want to focus your future efforts. You may decide to put most of your marketing muscle behind these. When considering profitability, don't just look at sales, but also the costs involved for you, including money, time, and resources. You should also consider hidden costs such as stress and take into consideration your own enjoyment in delivering the product.

Identify Your Best Customers

The foundation of your organization naturally includes your customers – your ideal ones. Identify who your "best" customers are and focus your business on them. Which customers do you consider the most valuable? Remember that value isn't determined solely by profit. Other things that could be considerations in selecting your best customers are:

  • Repeat customers who are loyal to your brand
  • Customers who are easy or fun to work with
  • The level of satisfaction you get from helping them
  • Customers who are valuable to other members of your organization
  • Customers who promise future value or benefits to you
  • Good connections in your industry

Another way to think about it is that these are the customers you want to spend time and effort on. They're the ones that make all your hard work worthwhile and enjoyable.

Why Do Your Customers Buy from You?

Having considered your products and best customers, now ask yourself: "Why do my customers buy from me, and not a competitor?" This is an excellent way to discover your organization's natural strengths. The specific reason customers choose you instead of a competitor is summarized in your Unique Value Proposition (UVP). Businesses identify a UVP to help them guide all their business and marketing decisions as well. It helps in all areas of business, including sales copy, communications with customers, marketing materials, choice of products and services to offer, and so on. Unlike your core values, your UVP is one single phrase that sums up these values and the unique benefits you offer your customers. Your UVP is not a slogan or positioning statement. The purpose is to:

  • Explain how your products or services solve problems
  • Tell customers what specific benefits they can expect from using your products or services
  • Describe what sets you apart from competitors

The UVP should do all of the above while also being as short and concise as possible. It should be clear and easy to understand within seconds. A template you can use to write your UVP is: "A (description of product or service) that (what you do) for (target customer) who (their needs)." For example: "A sales and marketing software platform that's easy to organize for small businesses who don't have time to waste." Even if you don't use this template, try to write a statement that sums up the above 3 elements. To make your UVP unique, get as specific as possible. Write in a tone that your customers use and can understand. This will also set the tone for your marketing materials and communications with the customer.  

Mike Conkey
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