Crafting Your Business Values
The following is excerpted from The Right-Brain Business Plan, available from New World Library.
Where Is Your Business Headed, and What Do You and Your Company Stand For?
Your work, like that of most creative entrepreneurs, authentically expresses who you are. You set up shop because you want to do things your own way and make your unique impact on the world. Your creative business reflects your vision, values, and voice.
Your vision is the big picture of your business (and your life). It's where you see yourself heading and includes how you're making a positive difference, what success looks and feels like to you, and what makes life and work ripe with fulfillment and meaning.
Your values are what you hold as most important to you. Values are your lifeblood. Values are what make you tick. Many solopreneurs honor their personal values through their work, so your business values may be based on your personal ones.
Your voice is the unique way in which you show up in the world. Your authentic voice helps you stand out from the crowd. If your vision is the big picture you're painting, and your values are the colorful paints, then your voice is like the beautiful brushstroke you use to bring your vision to life.
Values: Identify What's Most Important to You
Your values play an important role in your business. They are what you and your business stand for. And they are what your customers will experience when they interact with your company - which may entail anything from reading a simple marketing message, to engaging in a personal session with you, to using your product. Values will also help you make decisions. Are you honoring your values and your business goals with the decisions you're making?
If you're a solopreneur, your business values will most likely reflect your individual values. To identify your core values, reflect back on times in your life when you were on top of the world. These are discrete moments when you felt fully alive. For one client, it was when she experienced the thrill of skydiving. Adventure, it turned out, was really important to her, and she wanted more of it in her life. Your special moments could be ones you experienced while winning a high school track tournament, while backpacking in Europe with friends during summer break, or while simply taking a walk along the beach or playing with your dog. In these moments of feeling really fulfilled and happy, who were you being? What was going on around you? What were you doing? How can you bring those elements into your work and business right now?
Write down your answers or talk through your examples with a friend, and ask your friend to take notes for you so you can stay in the moment.
Befriend (Don't Banish) Anger: Uncover Its Clues to Your Values
Another way to identify your values is to look at what frustrates or upsets you. Anger often indicates a trampled value, a misdirected passion, or a violated boundary. When you're feeling unsatisfied, chances are you're not honoring some core value.
Think of specific times when you were mad or frustrated. What was happening? What about these situations upset you most? Write down your descriptions of them. To find your values, flip the words or phrases around to focus on what's most important to you. For example, if you get annoyed when someone asks you about something he could figure out for him-self, perhaps you value resourcefulness, independence, or taking care of oneself. Make a list of the new words or descriptions to identify additional possible values. Your values might be a string of words, such as "beauty/creativity/uniqueness" or "freedom/independence/solitude."
The more insight you have into yourself, the more insight you'll have into your business. Running a business is as much a personal-growth journey as it is a professional endeavor. Values are one of the ways that you get to express yourself through your work, and how fulfilled you feel is an indicator that your work is aligned with your values. As a right-brain entrepreneur, you'll find that, if your values are not reflected in your work, your work will lack meaning. Are you being authentic in your business? If you're compromising your values, you'll feel resentful, upset, burned out, and frustrated. When you're aligned with your values, you'll feel fulfilled and energized, and that is what people will resonate with most.
Exercise: Create a Card Deck of Your Values
Using the lists of words and descriptions from your values exploration, narrow down your top five to ten values or values strings. Next you'll be creating a visual reminder of your values by collaging a card for each value or values string.
What you'll need:
- Index cards (either 4" x 6" or 5" x 7")
- Glue stick
- Hole punch (optional)
- Loose-leaf ring or ribbon to hold cards together (optional)
- A small easel to display your cards (optional)
- Laminator, such as a Xyron machine, to protect your cards (optional)
- Write a value or values string on each index card.
- Look through magazines to find images that represent your values.
- Cut them out and paste them on the appropriate index card. You could also cut out the actual value words and collage them on the front of your card.
- If you want to keep them bound together, you can punch a hole in the corner of each card and attach them with a ring or with ribbon.
- If you'd like to protect your collages, consider laminating them. You can do it yourself with a
Xyron sticker maker, using the laminator cartridge, or take your cards to a copy center and have it done for you.
If you'd like, you can simply include your values on a section of your Big-Vision Collage. The nice thing about having them on separate cards, though, is that you can focus on each one individually.
Voice: Your Passion and Purpose Proclamation (a.k.a. Mission Statement)
So you have a sense of your vision, and you've articulated your values. Now it's time to fine-tune your voice so you can speak more confidently about what you do. Most business books have you create a mission statement, where you state why your company exists and why people would want to buy from you. With your Right-Brain Business Plan, you'll use your vision and values to help you pen a Passion and Purpose Proclamation instead. This proclamation describes what has heart and meaning for you and your perfect customers, and how you're making a positive impact through your work. Through your proclamation, you claim your unique gift and impact on the world, and you manifest them by means of your career or calling. How cool is that?
Take time to journal about the following questions. What has heart and meaning for you? What lights you up? What do you want to accomplish with your business? What's the difference (big or small) that you want to make in the world? What mark will you leave on the world by running your business?
Exercise: Pen Your Passion and Purpose Proclamation
Your Passion and Purpose Proclamation need only be a few lines. The simpler it is, the better, but don't get caught up in wordsmithing it to death. The point here is just to capture the essence of what brings you alive and what impact you want to make with your work.
To help you start drafting your proclamation, complete the following sentences:
- I am passionate about...
- My purpose is to...
Example of a massage therapist's proclamation: I am passionate about health, well-being, self-care, and relaxation. My purpose is to help people find ease and comfort in their own skin through the healing power of massage.
Another way to approach the purpose part of the proclamation is to play with metaphors and similes to get you out of your logical mind and into your imagination. What's a metaphor for your business and the impact you're making? If your business were an animal, a location, a color, or a song, what would it be, and why? For example: My business is a butterfly because it helps people transform. Or: My business is a cheetah because speedy service is our top priority. Or in the case of the massage therapist: My business is a warm ocean breeze that soothes the soul.
Your Passion and Purpose Proclamation expresses how you want yourself and your business to show up in the world. Make sure you write your proclamation out and include it on your Big-Vision Collage, on a card that you can place in your Right-Brain Business Plan, or in some other visible spot so you can connect with it often.
Copyright © 2011 by Jennifer Lee. Reprinted with permission from New World Library.
Image by James Cridland, courtesy of Creative Commons license.Tweet