One of the first things I did when starting my own business was I not only created a solid business plan and marketing plan, but also a values plan! With the help of a coach, my values were elicited: not the more conscious ones, but the more unconscious ones. This allowed me to discover what my true personal values are and what the very foundation that I stand on is. I realized that if I could carry those values in my personal as well as business life, then it would be a guaranteed way to create my own happiness. And I was right!
Here is the step-by-step process I followed (and still do):
1. Your values: Spend some time reflecting on your own values, preferably seeking out an especially trained coach. A coach can be a guide of clarity for you.
2. Business organization: Your decision to start a business as a sole proprietor or with a business partner should fully be in alignment with your values. What is the best way for you to carry out your own personal values? And if you seek a business partner, do their values conflict or align with yours? Is there a clear understanding? What about hierarchy?
3. Work-Life balance: How can your values best be met, when it comes to balancing your work and life? It is crucial that the way you set up your work-life balance allows for your values to be carried out in all areas of your life. What are the affects on your personal life when running your business? Or vice versa. What about finance and security? Time at work versus family time?
4. Location: The location you provide your services from also needs to be aligned with your values. This includes decisions about travel time, what type of physical environments you thrive in, and will the right clients come to this location? Is it representative of you?
5. Creation of product & service: Your product or service need to be in line with your values. You will spend a great deal of your time delivering your product and/or service, so alignment up to its fullest potential is crucial.
6. Delivery of product & service: Your product and service: what do you put out into the world at the end of the day? How can you maximize your values being carried out from a larger perspective? What are the effects of your products or service in regards to other people?
7. Marketing & sales: Your marketing and sales need to be in alignment with your values. This might end up meaning that there are certain things you will do that others won’t. An interesting by-product is, I ultimately believe that values based marketing actually sells!
8. Co-workers: The people you work with must align, energize and catalyze your values. What are their values? Can they carry out their values alongside yours? The way you work with them needs to be fully and completely in line with your values.
9. Clients: How can you attract clients into your life that allow you to operate within your set of values? And how about your ability to align with theirs in the process?
10. Your day-to-day activities: The work that you are required to do all day must be in line with your values. Not that you have to enjoy every element of your day, but you can’t go against your values. What about investment of time and finances in your own training? How do you organize your schedule? How do you treat other people?
11. Customer Service: Simply automatically add this to your list of values. The synergy this creates will affect all areas of your business. This is what clients respond to, and will set you apart from the competition.
It is important that in everything you do on a day-to-day basis, you carry out your values. Especially when this gets tough! For example, this is easy when you are hiring based on values, but you may also find yourself in a position that you are forced to fire for the same reasons. It is easy to live your values in a perfectly working business partnership, but you must do the same when it is not ideal. You must carry out your values when you are emotional and dealing with tough clients, failing third parties, the lucrative contract or offer to sell out, the “lure” of dishonest sales, the conversations you have over lunch with co-workers about clients, etc. You have to be the bigger person and you do so by always carrying out your values.