I’ve been thinking about the idea of values that run your life be integrated into your business. At the root of our values is how does our philosophy of life use these values to show us the direction we need to move?
I’ve recently been thinking about how you combine the two create more complete use of values and how to communicate them more effectively to all of the stakeholders in our business.
To start, do you even know what your values are?
This is the starting place. If you don’t know what your values are, you might want to get our free values cheat sheet. It’s easy to get, just click here, and we’ll have it on it’s way to you.
When I think about philosophy in business the place I always start are values. Philosophy is often an explanation of what a values system is and how it works. I bet you don’t want to get that deep in the weeds around values and I don’t blame you.
At the same time, when you are working on your personal values, you will automatically start thinking about how those values fit in with your life. This isn’t some giant philosophical excursion, it’s just something that will automatically happen.
Once you’ve identified your values, do you integrate them into your business?
This is step two, and it’s also the first step in developing a philosophy for your business. This will only happen if you use your business values properly. This means after you decide what are the core values your business needs, you will want to make sure those values fit in with your personal values. Then, you will need to write a clarifying statement around each value, so others know what you mean.
In my case, I could take the term fairness and make this into a business value. For others to know what I mean, I need to write a clarifying statement around that term. My clarifying statement might be, “Fairness means treating others the way they want to be treated and to expect the same in return from others I deal with.” If this is a core value, then it also becomes part of the philosophy of my business.
The real key here is to have an honest conversation with yourself. If fairness really a core value? Do I walk my talk when I speak about fairness? Do I really demand others act fairly in the business dealings I have? If the answer is yes, then it’s time to move to the next step.
Now, let’s spend a few minutes talking about your business philosophy.
Using our example of fairness, it’s easy to expand it to part of our business philosophy. This is where you ask yourself how does fairness fit in with my business? How do I communicate my thoughts around fairness to all that interact with my business? When people aren't fair, what will I do?
These are just a few examples of what fairness means and how you should think about using it in your business. You can spend thirty minutes or so and generate questions for each of your core values. These questions become the basis for your business philosophy, and the answers will help you think clearly about the mission your business needs to fulfill.
This is a piece I think I’ve been missing as I’ve been talking about values in business. It’s an important part and one that will bring you a great deal of value for a minimal amount of effort.
If you were to talk about your business philosophy how would it land with your stakeholders?
This one is a big deal. When you start talking about your philosophy with the stakeholders in your business the first step is to be brutally honest with yourself. If you start talking about a business philosophy that isn’t true, yet you act like it is, you will be seen a liar. I’m sure that is something you’re not interested in happening.
The risk in talking about your business philosophy is even larger than starting to use values in your business. And, the benefit is larger also. Just remember that saying this philosophy is aspirational is OK. If you say it’s a core philosophy and you don’t walk the talk, that’s a problem. If you say it’s part of an aspirational philosophy you have, then you’ll probably be good to go.
Here’s what I want you to do.
If you haven’t done your values work, start there. If you have, now take a couple of hours, and you can do this over several sessions, and start writing those philosophical questions. From there spend some time answering your questions, and you’ll have some very practical ways of using your business values in all sorts of scenarios.
The more different ways you use your values, the more valuable they become. Developing a business philosophy will help.
What do you think about this? Why don’t you just leave a comment below and let me know what you think?