Every company or organization has values to which it adheres, and it’s important to define them for yourselves and for your customers.

Your values are your brand: A company’s set of values is an increasingly important factor for buyers. What you stand for is often just as important as what you sell. If your brand has been built around a core set of organizing principles that guides your approach to business, it is often a net-positive to make it known. That said, it is vital that the values your brand champion are lived within your company, not simply purported by your marketing department. Own what you are, not what you think the market desires. People have a keen ability to distinguish between a value you celebrate and one you co-opt, and you don’t want to be on the wrong side of that line.

Values influence process: How a company operates is often determined by what a company believes. Codifying those beliefs and making them known helps employees, partners, shareholders, and other stakeholders gain important insight into why internal processes are what they are.

Values are the foundation of your purpose: A business must evolve, but the values that helped give rise to a business often remain fixed. If a business becomes in conflict with its founding principles, it is often a sign that something has gone awry. Clearly articulating a company’s founding principles and disseminating them throughout the company helps a business stay connected to its purpose, which in turn helps it stay grounded when external or internal pressures can cause a company to become unmoored from why it was created in the first place. Most businesses need to be nimble, but nimbleness can morph into moral (if not ethical or legal) pliability if one doesn’t maintain a commitment to a purpose higher than the bottom line.

Every business starts with high hopes and high ideals. Hopes will take the form of a painstakingly crafted business plan. Make sure your ideals are given the same attention, for they are no less important.

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