The Value In Your Values

According to a recent study, 50-70% of all joint ventures fail–and 49% of those failures are due to unresolvable cultural differences between the two companies. To be clear; when I say “cultural differences,” I mean company culture–you know, the very essence of your business. We’ve already emphasized the importance of picking the right partner (here, here, and, oh yeah, here), but how can you possibly determine whether their values align with yours if you’re not entirely sure what your values are?

Sure, you and your team have always agreed to “do the right thing” and “treat each customer with respect,” but those values (while noble) aren’t enough to determine the mission, purpose, or vision of your company–which are the building blocks of your company culture. And, as you already know, your company culture can make or break your business. As your company grows, those loosely communicated values becomes more and more important, and the need to set them in stone becomes more and more imperative.

In order for your company culture to thrive (and, in turn, your company) you’ll have to refer to those values for each and every decision you make. You’ll hire to those values, and you’ll fire to those values. You’ll look to those values whenever you need advice on a big (or small) business decision. And, above all, you’ll use those values to determine the best referral partners to help grow your company! But before all that can happen, you have to determine what those values actually are–a challenge we took on ourselves at the beginning of this quarter.

We got a lot of help from Infusionsoft Elite Forum–they emphasized the importance of determining the core values, purpose, and mission when it comes to running a successful business (and they would know; they’ve grown from a handful of entrepreneurs with a great idea into a $60 million company in less than 12 years). Once we saw what they were doing with their own values, we knew we had to try it for ourselves. So we sat down, made a list of what’s most important to our company, and took it the team for an open discussion. The end result was a list of 11 core values that we believe represent our company, our employees, and our culture.

If you haven’t already, now is the time to nail down your own list of core values and begin the process of aligning your company culture to match them. Need some help? Here’s how:

1. Start by creating a list of the values or attributes you feel best represent your company’s vision or mission. Things like “we strive for excellence,” or, “we always go above and beyond.” Get your team in on the brainstorming session and see how many you can come up with.

2. Test each value by applying a real-life business example (either a challenge or a success) and nix any that fall short of the truth.

3. Refine your list by combining any values that sound redundant or repetitive. For example; “we strive for excellence” could easily be combined with “we go above and beyond.” Decide which expression suites you best, and get rid of the excess (you want your list to be short and easy to remember–after all, these care values should be easy to recall at the drop of a hat).

4. Now that you’ve settled on a solid list, get to wordsmithing! Once your core values are set in stone, there’s no going back, so make sure they sound how you want them to sound and reflect the commitment you’re trying to present.

For even more tips when it comes to determining your core values, check out this blog post by Infusionsoft. Remember, once you have your values fleshed out, you can easily determine if your referral partners are really worth the risk.


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