Creating core values for your small business

Like a mission and vision, a clearly defined set of values help guide the company’s actions. Core values are important things to have in a successful small business.

Examples of business values are ethics, commitment to customer service, continuous improvement, respect for the individual, environmental consciousness, quality, efficiency, or empowerment.

Core values of a business are usually the same as the values of the business’ founder. Starbucks’ core values (or “guiding principles”) are:

  • Provide a great work environment and treat each other with respect and dignity.
  • Embrace diversity as an essential component in the way we do business.
  • Apply the highest standards of excellence to the purchasing, roasting and fresh delivery of our coffee.
  • Develop enthusiastically satisfied customers all of the time.
  • Contribute positively to our communities and our environment.
  • Recognize that profitability is essential to our future success.

It takes time to unearth your core values. You probably value many things, but which few will be the most important to your small business?

We suggest a “yellow sticky” exercise — write a core value on a sticky note and paste it somewhere where you can reflect on it. Do this with all your core values until you find the ones that best fit you and your business. Your values may change over time, so be prepared to do this exercise again later.

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