When we first start out in business, we think about things like the service or product that we’re going to offer. We plan out marketing strategies and pricing structures. We think about customer service and business goals. But we don’t always stop to think about our values – something that’s actually a crucial part of our brand! So, in today’s blog we’re going to do just that. We’ll use our own business to illustrate why values are important, but by doing so, we’ll hopefully leave you with food for though to take forward to your own organisation.
What are values in business?
Your values are essentially the image that you want to portray to the rest of the world. And particularly to your customers! They are the core messages that guide how you do business and what you stand for. Consequently, they should be at the heart of everything that you do. For example, you might decide that some of your values are people- or behaviour-driven, such as integrity, inclusivity, or respect. Others might focus on standards of service – like ‘professionalism’. Or perhaps an awareness of how your business fits into the bigger picture – like ‘sustainability’ or ‘giving back’.
Whatever you choose, both you and your staff should ‘sign up’ to them, literally or other wise. And in doing so, commit to demonstrating them whenever, and with whomsoever, you do business. By doing so, you ensure that your business is presented to the outside world in a certain way, and being consistent about it ensures that your customers and stakeholders know what to expect when they engage with you.
How do I define my values?
It’s important to remember at this point that you have personal values as well as business ones. So as we move forward, we’d encourage you to spend a little time think about both. Because if your personal values don’t fit with the ones you want for your business, there may be trouble ahead! For example, you might want your business to be able to respond to customers on a 24/7 basis. BUT, you work alone and one of your personal values is flexibility. The result? The two may well find themselves at something of a stand-off!
Moving on though, we know why values are important, but how do we define them?
Well, unfortunately there is no fail-safe method or prescribed formula – probably because every business, and every person is different. Instead, the following prompts can be used to guide your thought process:
- Who, and what inspires you in life and in business?
- What are your greatest achievements and what is it about you that helped you accomplish these things?
- What do you consider to be your strengths, and what traits do you admire in others?
- Are there any traits or qualities that definitely aren’t you?
- What has happened in your life that you either wish you had done, or handled, better?
To illustrate the points above, here are Tabono’s own values, along with an explanation of why we chose them and how they translate to our business:
For us, Connection comes from the fact that running a small business, often on your own, can be incredibly lonely. We find ourselves without anyone to ask questions of, or bounce ideas around with. For those coming from the corporate world, the ‘buzz’ of the office environment is suddenly gone. As business owners, we’ve been there ourselves. We know how it feels. So, we wanted to provide the sense of connection that is lacking, but that is so important.
Our second value – Support – is linked to Connection in the sense that it’s about people. Chloe and I have both run businesses alone, and now that we work together, we know how valuable our partnership is in terms of emotional and practical support. But again, women who work alone don’t always have that. Or at least they don’t always have access to people who are treading the same path. People who really ‘get it’. So regardless of what type of support is needed, our aim is to provide it directly. Or to at the very least, be able to point the person in the right direction.
This is a crucial one for us. A definite ‘non-negotiable’! Why? Because we believe all women should have access to opportunities, regardless of circumstances, experience or business stage. We know how it feels to be excluded from networking events because there’s already someone there who does a similar role to us. Or to feel we can’t attend an event because we don’t feel confident enough to deliver the required ‘pitch’. Or even how it feels when you just can’t attend something useful because you have young children at home! So with us, everyone is welcome, and we do our utmost to be as inclusive as possible. And what’s more, we do whatever we can to make each woman feel comfortable, and valued for exactly who she is.
Expertise was chosen as a value for a number of reasons. Firstly, we believe that the combination of mine and Chloe’s expertise is what sets us apart and makes us unique. Secondly, we want to make that expertise accessible to our members and clients, either on an individual basis through our coaching, or in a group setting through our community. Thirdly, we want to make the expertise of others accessible too! This applies in both in a ‘mutual support’ capacity, or by being able to refer our clients to our network of trusted and experienced suppliers.
Value number 5 is Growth and again, this applies to both individuals and their businesses, and to both us and our clients. We believe strongly in ongoing personal and professional development and commit to this both as individuals, and in working with our clients and members. For us, standing still is not an option! We love to welcome ambitious women who are focused on making progress and delivering success, whatever that looks like for them.
Our final value is Authenticity, and again, this one comes from personal experience. Sadly, women often feel that they have to portray themselves, and their businesses, in a certain way. The whole “How’s business?”… “Oh it’s great thanks!” conversation. We’ve all been there. Think about those times when you say things are fine when in reality, you’re far from it. In our opinion, this pressure is far too common, and found from far too many sources. So instead, we are absolutely authentic in how we work with our clients and encourage them to do the same. We want them to know that we’re there for them on the good days, and the bad. Tabono is a safe space, where it’s absolutely ok to show vulnerability, and to seek support when it’s needed. Likewise, there’s no need to be shy about shouting about your wins from the rooftops!
Over to you
If you’ve made it to the end of this blog, and we very much hope that you have, it’s over to you! Take some time to either identify, or check in with your values. Then make sure that they translate to how you deliver your business on a consistent basis. It, and your customers, will thank you!