Your business means more than just a paycheck. As a small business owner, your company’s values are a reflection of you, and the mark you want to leave on the world. Today more than ever, businesses are driven by the priorities and values of their leadership. That’s why creating a vision for your company’s values is crucial for measuring your success.

What is a Vision Statement?

A vision statement is an aspirational statement of what your leadership wants its future to look like. It lays out what the company wants to be, and how the leadership hopes to affect the community and customers it serves. Unlike a mission statement or strategic plan, a vision statement isn’t concerned with how the company will meet its goals. Instead, it is the bird’s eye view of the direction of the business.

A vision statement is closely tied to your company’s values. If you don’t understand the top priorities for your business, you won’t be able to express the impact you want it to have. Often, a vision statement starts with the primary problem your company sets out to solve. But for many small business owners it will also reflect the values they hold dear.

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What are Your Company’s Values?

Every company is centered on certain organizational values, whether the leadership realizes it or not. Sometimes called “guiding principles,” your company’s values are the beliefs leadership hold about the way business should be done, and how company employees ought to behave. There are several types of company values:

  • Ethical Values that focus on a company’s approach to moral issues such as environmentalism or human rights. (Examples: sustainability, diversity, respect)
  • Market Values that address customer service and needs. (Examples: quality, reliability, accountability)
  • Internal Values that control how employees are treated and business gets done. (Examples: collaboration, flexibility, accountability)
  • Financial Values that affect the company’s money management. (Examples: philanthropy, frugality, investment in employees)
  • Creative Values that reflect your company’s unique contribution to the industry or market. (Examples: expression, boldness, open-mindedness)

Even if your company has never put together a vision statement, you likely still operate based on a shared set of company values. Taking time to make these explicit can help you clarify the vision for your company going forward.

5 Steps to Identifying Company Values

The existence of company values may a be relatively automatic result of doing business. However, creating a vision for your company values won’t happen without careful planning and execution. Working with a facilitator or business consultant, you can take these steps to define your company values, and set out a vision statement to match:

1.      Identifying What Drives Your Business

This is all about taking stock of where you are now. You can identify the motivating factors and desires that drive your business decisions today, and then evaluate which are helping you, and what motivates are holding you back from greater success.

2.      Defining Your Personal Values

As a business owner, your personal priorities and values will affect the way you do business. The more your company values align with your personal priorities, the more authentic you can be acting as the company spokesperson. Before setting out a vision for your company values, you need to ensure that you understand your own priorities.

3.      Understanding You Customers’ Priorities

Your business needs to serve the needs of your customers. That can mean different things to different people. For example, do your customers come to you because you offer the most competitive prices, or because you offer high-quality products or services? Understanding your place in the market can help you align your company’s values with your customers’ priorities. This can also guide choices that will set you apart from your competitors.

4.      Incorporating Employee Values

No company can go far without strong employees. A clear vision for company values an aid in the development of a workplace culture that encourages your employees to do your best. Work with your facilitator to develop a picture of an ideal employee. Then get employees involved in collaborating to define team values and priorities. This will help guide hiring and also make it easier to create internal rules and procedures.

5.      Setting Aspirational but Realistic Goals

With all these different interests in play, the final step of creating a vision statement is often the hardest. You will need to find the right balance between aspiration and realism. While your vision statement should reflect where your company is going, it must also be based on what is reasonably within reach to accomplish. A mom-and-pop shop won’t gain much benefit from seeking to compete with an international chain. By striking a balance between ambition and practicality, you can create a vision for your company’s values that will motivate your team and keep you from being overly disappointed along the way.

Get Help Crafting Your Vision for Your Company’s Values

Your company values should be things you can personally get behind, while also being relevant to your industry and resonant with your customers. Striking the right balance isn’t always easy, but with the help of a skilled facilitator, you should be able to find a vision that will motivate you, and your team, to do bigger, better things.

David Stanislaw is an organizational development specialist with over 30 years’ experience helping small business owners create vision statements and strategic plansContact us to meet with David to create a vision for your company’s values today.