This is the first article in a series about strengthening the core values of your small business.

If you grab any fitness magazine, you’ll likely see an article on the importance of a strong core. Your core muscles are the ones in your body’s trunk—think abs, back, and pelvis. Research proves that the health of your core affects how the rest of your body functions. An article from Harvard Health Publishing says it can impact everything from your posture to balance and stability, and it can affect your job to your home life. And Mayo Clinic warns that:

“Weak core muscles can lead to more fatigue, less endurance and injuries. Weak core muscles can also leave you susceptible to poor posture, lower back pain and muscle injuries.”

A strong core isn’t just a nicety. It’s vital! And that got me thinking about how much the health of a company is affected when its core is weak. 

As I see it, a company with a weak core is one that doesn’t have clear core values to give it the balance, stability, posture, and strength to function at its best day to day.

Small companies often struggle with a weak core because owners and entrepreneurs are juggling everything from marketing to inventory to staffing to financial management. Who has time to think about a strong core? 

But I want to attest that taking the time and effort to define core values for Officeheads has made a tremendous difference for our daily operations and long-term success. Most of what I learned about core values came from one of my favorite business books by Gino Wickman titled Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business. According to Wickman, your core values are three to seven timeless, guiding principles that shape and strengthen your business. Some companies use one-word values like: Integrity. Honesty. Leadership. Diversity. Some companies develop short phrases like these:

  • Make a difference every day.
  • Find a better way.
  • Start with the customer.
  • Cultivate raving fans.
  • Do the right thing.

Whether it’s a phrase or a single word, choose your values—and remember to use them! Many companies take the time to define their core values but then fail to put them to work. Just like muscles will atrophy without use, so too will your core values: if you don’t use your core values, you lose them. Here are some ways that Wickman says your core values can be put to work to keep your business running strong each day:

Core values define culture and who you are as people. The great thing about being a small business owner is that you get to shape and define the sort of company you want. Are you concerned about the environment? Do you want to stand for integrity or be known to serve the poor? Do you want to change the industry through innovation? Whatever is important to you should be in your core values—written down and in the open so you and your team remember what’s most important as you carry out your tasks day to day.

Use your core values to hire, fire, review, reward, and recognize people. Once your core values are defined, written down, and posted somewhere you and your team will see them every day, you can put them to work. You’ll want to add team members whose personal values line up with your core values. Likewise, you’ll want to remove anyone who doesn’t abide by them. Your core values also give you a ready standard for employee reviews and rewards.

Core values attract the right customers that fit your culture. In addition to building a team that matches your core values, you will also build a customer and client base from them too. Your core values will shape how you operate, and the customers you serve will notice! They will keep coming back to companies that exhibit their personal values—and they will tell their like-minded friends too!

Defining and using your core values will help you grow into the company you want to be. In the next few months, I’ll share each of the core values for Officeheads and explain how it guides our daily operations and contributes to our success. I firmly believe that a strong core will make it possible for your company to be a success! Does your company have a rock-solid core? Or is it struggling to find stability and balance? Officeheads is here to provide financial planning and strategy help that will get your business in tip-top shape. Reach out today to learn more!