How Do Small Businesses Stay Aligned With Core Values?

    Authored By

    Small Biz Leader

    How Do Small Businesses Stay Aligned With Core Values?

    In the quest to maintain the integrity of a company's guiding principles, we've compiled insights from top executives, including CEOs and Presidents, on how to keep a business true to its core values. From incorporating values into daily operations to reinforcing them in all aspects of the business, explore the six expert strategies shared by these leaders, complete with real-world examples.

    • Incorporate Values into Daily Operations
    • Visible Values and Regular Check-Ups
    • Hire Based on Value Alignment
    • Make Ethical Choices in Tough Times
    • Lead by Example and Communicate Clearly
    • Reinforce Values in All Operations

    Incorporate Values into Daily Operations

    Sticking to our core values isn't just about having them listed somewhere on our website; it's about making them a part of our daily grind. I mean, it's easy to say we value 'integrity,' but is it truly guiding every decision we make as our North Star?

    To keep our team aligned with our core values, we've instilled the eight positive attitudes—Honesty, Responsibility, Caring, Humility, Open-Mindedness, Objectivity, Gratitude, and Willingness. Anytime a team member is falling short, they're typically struggling with one or more of these attitudes. In our Friday end-cap meetings, we do Attitude Checks, and we have the opportunity to mirror one another, lift each other up, and keep us all on track, true to who we are and what we stand for. We've practically ritualized this, and it works! Our labor productivity and retention are about as good as anyone could ever hope for.

    Justin Smith
    Justin SmithCEO, Contractor+

    Visible Values and Regular Check-Ups

    Ensuring that my business stays aligned with its core values is super important to me. I mean, those values are like the guiding stars for everything we do, right? So, one thing I always do is keep those values front and center, literally. I've got them plastered all over the office—on the walls, in our meeting rooms, even on our coffee mugs.

    But it's not just about having them visible. It's about living them. For example, one of our core values is 'customer-first.' So, we make it a point to regularly check in with our customers, get their feedback, and really listen to what they're saying. We had this one time when a customer suggested a feature that totally aligned with what we're all about. We jumped on it, developed it, and it's been a hit.

    Another way I keep us aligned is by making sure our team is on the same page. During our team meetings, we don't just talk shop; we also chat about how our actions reflect our values. It's like a regular values check-up.

    And you know what? It's not always smooth sailing. There have been times when we've had to make tough calls to stay true to our values, even if it meant missing out on a quick win. But in the long run, it's totally worth it because it builds trust and integrity, and that's what keeps our business strong.

    Jason Vaught
    Jason VaughtPresident, Equipping Entrepreneurs

    Hire Based on Value Alignment

    At Redfish Technology, we stay ethical through a comprehensive hiring process. Staying aligned with our core values means putting together a team that reflects these morals, and the time to do that is early. That's why, when I'm adding a member, I don't just look for someone with the education and experience required. I'm also considering soft attributes like personality and communication styles. And I'm not afraid to ask hard questions about their own personal value system. It's something I need to know if I'm going to maintain our reputation.

    It can get pretty technical: I recently turned down an employee who, on paper, was perfect for our opening. She had the right résumé, but after extensive interviewing, I realized that her values simply didn't align with my business. We kept looking, and she moved on, finding a workplace that suited her perfectly.

    Rob Reeves
    Rob ReevesCEO and President, Redfish Technology

    Make Ethical Choices in Tough Times

    Staying aligned with your core values is easier in good times; the real test arrives during tight spots.

    When I launched Bemana, finances were limited, as in most startups. I found that I needed to stop and ask myself regularly if the choice I was making stayed true to my ethics.

    I realized the best strategy was one that accounted for these circumstantial differences.

    Recently, I was facing a hard decision about a client and found myself unsure of how to proceed. I remembered this early lesson and took some extra time to think about Bemana's long-term goals and core values, and the choice became clear.

    Linn Atiyeh
    Linn AtiyehCEO, Bemana

    Lead by Example and Communicate Clearly

    As the CEO of Startup House, I make sure to regularly communicate our core values to all team members and lead by example. One way we stay aligned is by incorporating our values into our decision-making process, whether it's hiring new talent or choosing which projects to take on. For example, when faced with a difficult client who wanted us to compromise our integrity, we stood firm in our values and respectfully declined the project. This not only reinforced our commitment to our core values but also earned us respect in the industry for our integrity.

    Alex Stasiak
    Alex StasiakCEO & Founder, Startup House

    Reinforce Values in All Operations

    As a managing partner at a local law firm in northern Alabama, I ensure that our business stays aligned with its core values by consistently reinforcing them in every aspect of our operations. For example, one of our core values is compassion for our clients, so we prioritize empathy and understanding in every interaction. This means actively listening to our clients, addressing their concerns, and going above and beyond to support them during challenging times. Additionally, we regularly review our processes and decision-making to ensure they reflect our values, and we provide ongoing training and development opportunities to our team members to reinforce our commitment to excellence and integrity.

    Hunter Garnett
    Hunter GarnettPersonal Injury Lawyer, Managing Partner, Garnett Patterson Injury Lawyers