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Should you bother with a values statement as a small business?

The values of a business shape its identity. It’s what sets it apart from its competitors and can be a rallying point for any employees you have.

Most small businesses don’t bother with it because it can be seen as a pointless exercise, an empty platitude that would look good on the website or on the socials. But is it really? If you are happy to just plod along with your business and “break even” or just make a bit of money on the side, then by all means skip the values statement. But if you want to grow your business, I believe a values statement is essential, along with a purposemission and vision statements

A values statement, properly and well constructed, is part of a brand image and guides the strategy for your business. It’s also a great way to let your ideal customer know if your business is worth supporting. Customers support businesses that align with their values, because it builds trust. 

After writing your business purpose (the reason it exists), then your vision (where you would like it to go) and mission (and how you’re going to get there) then the next thing is the values statement.

What is a values statement?

Put simply, it’s what you believe. Most importantly, it’s what your business believes in. Your beliefs guide all your decisions for your business such as the products you sell, the services to offer, and how you will interact with your customers. It can also influence employee hiring and your relationships beyond your customers, such as stakeholders, suppliers and business partners.

Your company values is your business’ DNA and provide transparency on how your business is run. It’s not just a fluffy statement to put on your website so that it looks good.

It is part of what makes your identity in the market place. In a saturated business landscape, your identity and individuality as a business is what will make you stand out.

The benefits of a company values statement

Besides the reasons previously stated, a values statement is important for these reasons:

  • It is what identifies your brand and differentiates you in the market. It drives all your marketing strategies and makes it easier to formulate a powerful, consistent message to your customers.
  • It helps communicate what your products or services are and makes it easy to sell yourself to your customers.
  • It impacts innovation as it forces you to focus on products and/or services that provide the best value and the greatest returns for your business.
  • If you have employees, it guides them on what the business stands for and fosters employee engagement, motivation and efficiency.
  • It helps you attract and retain “high value” clients or customers – those who share the same beliefs as you and who trust you and stay loyal to you. 

Company values have a direct impact on the strength of your business as a whole and helps you retain happy and engaged employees, and loyal, returning customers.

How to write a values statement

  1. Make it specific. Use words that are strong and definitive but don’t make it too flowery or it would sound insincere. Also, try not to have too many adjectives(?) for the same reason – it loses meaning and just becomes fluff. 
  2. Keep it short and simple. Don’t have a long paragraph. A couple of sentences is enough.
  3. Make it memorable. Make sure it truly reflects you and what your company stands for. While it’s nice to look at other companies’ examples, try not to sound like others as you won’t stand out from the crowd.
  4. Make it customer-centric as well as employee-centric. In other words try to make your values statement applicable for both your customers and any employees you have.
  5. Your values can evolve over time. As your business grows, it’s okay to re-evaluate your values statement and change it based on your business’ evolving needs and your own experience. 

Communicating company values

Once you’ve formulated your values statement, it’s important to communicate it. This is where your socials can be put to good use. Struggling to know what content to put out on your social media accounts? Your values statements are a good start. This helps your potential customers get to know you better and understand what your business stands for and why you are in business. It’s an excellent exercise in relationship building, after all, all successful businesses have at their core a great relationship with their customers.

Examples of values statements

Adidas values statement
Honest company values statement

Over to you...

What’s your business’ values? If you need help with formulating your values statemen and structuring your marketing materials around that, contact me.