How to Start a Business (Part 2)
Starting a business will challenge you in ways you cannot imagine. There will be days when you wonder if you are on the right path. However, being secure in your ambition and vision will keep the doubt at bay. Your dreams, desires, and your expectations of life, will drive your business success. You may see your business as the key to achieving your vision. But if you don't pause to clarify this vision from the outset, your chances of achieving it are drastically reduced.
In this article, you will learn how to identify your vision and how your core values fit into this vision and influence the business you're creating.
Uncover Your Vision for Your Business
What is a vision? It's your ideal picture of the future you want to create for yourself and others. Your purpose and vision are unique to you. Often, your vision will depict the materialization of your "big why."
Your unique vision for your life and your business ambitions will most likely be closely aligned. The alignment of personal and business purposes is usually the case for entrepreneurs. In fact, the need to align your dreams and business ambitions may be the motivation for starting your own business.
However, your business ambitions might still be fuzzy if the laptop lifestyle inspired you to quit the corporate 9-5 world.
"How different our lives are when we really know what is deeply important to us, and, keeping that picture in mind, we manage ourselves each day to be and to do what really matters most."
From Steven Covey's "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People"
One method of clarifying your purpose is to write a vision statement.
Let's look at a couple of examples:
“...to incorporate healthy food alternatives into your lifestyle.” Crystal Bonnet, International Raw Food Chef at Crystal Dawn Culinary
“I’m focused on supporting individuals during every meaningful moment of health throughout their lifetime.” Karen Lynch, President and CEO of CVS Health
“To use my gifts of intelligence, charisma, and serial optimism to cultivate the self-worth and net-worth of women around the world.” Amanda Steinberg, Founder of Dailyworth.com
“To serve as a leader, live a balanced life, and apply ethical principles to make a significant difference.” Denise Morrison, CEO of Campbell Soup Company
"To be a teacher. And to be known for inspiring my students to be more than they thought they could be." Oprah Winfrey, Founder of OWN
What do these vision statements have in common?
First, none of these vision statements mention business or sales. By most measurements, these business leaders are incredibly successful business leaders. Yet their vision statements are not about sales goals. What motivates and guides their business is their big "why."
Here are some guidelines to help you write yours.
A vision statement:
- Sets out high-level goals.
- Inspires you.
- Motivates you.
- Contains feelings and emotions.
- Is in the present tense.
What Are Your Values?
Values highlight what we stand for - things like honesty, integrity, and responsibility - and represent our unique character. Values guide our behavior. Our values guide our unique code of conduct. When we honor our core values consistently, we experience fulfillment.
Here's an exercise to help you define your core values. When you complete this exercise, you should have identified between 5 and 8 core values that are key to your existence.
1. Write down the personal values you feel you must honor at all costs.
2. Group these values under related themes. For example:
- Values like accountability, responsibility, and timeliness are similar in that they all relate to integrity.
- Values like learning, growth, and development are similar as they relate to openness.
3. If you still have a sizeable list of values, you need to whittle your list down to the most important ones. These are the values that you'd stand up for no matter what. Ask yourself this question: What values are essential to my life?
4. After you have written down up to 8 values, rank them in the order of importance.
Then, step back and ask yourself:
- Are your values representative of you?
- Are these values personal?
- Are there inconsistencies with any of these values?
- Are these truly your values, or do they belong to someone else, like a family member or social authority?
- Review the priority rankings. Are your values in the order of importance that make sense to you?
Put Your Values into Action
It's relatively easy to see how the values of the individual who heads a small business or start-up will impact that business. Once you know what's most important to you, you can use those values to help guide you in choosing your company's most important values.
How Will Your Values Help You Create Your Business?
Ask yourself, from the position of your fundamental values:
- How do I want my customers/employees/partners to feel?
- To stay true to my values, how do I run my business ?
- Where do I need to pay particular attention to aligning my purpose in my business?
Let's look at a couple of examples:
Patagonia clothing company is up front in their efforts to save the planet. In fact, they say on their website: "We aim to use the resources we have—our voice, our business and our community—to do something about our climate crisis." They donate 1% of sales, not profits, to small organizations spearheading actions to save habitats. You can read the impressive history here. https://www.patagonia.com/company-history/
Chewy pet supply company who shares their customers' passion for pets. Their website claims: "Since 2012, we've donated more than $97M in products to ensure that shelter and rescue animals get the quality care they deserve." They also make it easy for their customers to donate to rescue organizations directly from their website.
Your business is not just about making money. It's about your vision for life and the way you want to live it. Defining your values and creating a vision statement will guide your business growth.