Guest post by Dave Ursillo
Some of the biggest, most impressive and remarkably visionary companies in our world can teach a lot more to a small business owner like you than you’d might expect.
Built to Last by Jim Collins and Jerry Porras masterfully articulates this set of proven lessons and smart habits that businesses of any size can learn and implement.
Most of the concepts that Collins and Porras argue actually seem backwards at first glance. They say that founding a company based upon “one great idea” is a bad idea; that beating the competition is secondary to internal competition that allows your team’s best ideas to surge forth; and that the world’s most visionary companies prioritize core values — an internal culture, a unique ideology that emphasizes purpose and meaning — beyond profits.
Clearly defining and articulating a set of core values is perhaps the most important aspect of establishing a strong basis for a small business’ identity. Not only is it vital for the members of your small business to understand core values, they become far more important, in my opinion, than your brand name or a recognizable logo.
Businesses change. It’s not unrealistic to expect the name of your company (and even the names of your products) to come and go. Logos are also a dime a dozen today, and as unique as you think yours is, it probably won’t do much to affect your company’s bottom line.
What matters far more than those “sexy” elements of starting a new business — which really turn out to be major time-wasters in the long run — is to develop a set of core values that you and your employees operate off of.
- What are your values?
- What is your purpose, beyond profit?
- What will be the meaningful drive behind you and your employees every day, beyond sales?
Small biz values not only shape your public image far more than Facebook Page giveaways, but become the “constant” that sustains your business’ identity during good times and functions as a “safety net” upon which the business can fall during difficult times.
Even as a blogger like me, I’ve learned the hard way how values ought to supersede priority in whatever you’re attempting to build — whether in business, or in life. Gitchy names, logos and marketing strategies come and go, and so will your own business ideas change and evolve, succeed and fail.
What matters most is the constant that will continue to breathe life into your organization in spite of shortcomings — and keep you grounded and aligned with your priorities during growth and periods of success.
Even for me as an individual writer making his way in this world, remaining grounded and aligned with my values has sustained my sense of purpose through thick and thin. Meanwhile, some of the most remarkable and highly-visionary companies over the last 150 years have placed priority on values, too, and succeeded wildly as a result.
So, what are your business’ core values?