Your guiding values or operating values establish the factors that drive your decisions. What values are most important to you as a business owner? What would you never want to sacrifice regardless of the consequences? You can incorporate your values statement with your other statements: "Our company accomplishes Y (vision statement). We make this happen by doing X (mission statement), always operating according to the principles of Z (values statement)." For a small company I recommend about 5-7 guiding values.
Examples of values you might include:
- Measure twice, cut once
- Continuous improvement
- Reward excellence
- Do it right the first time
Be sure to clarify what you mean by each phrase. Intuit Inc's list of operating values provides some excellent examples of values that you might want to include for your business. You can also view the values statements I created for my own business (on my woefully neglected website).
Using your statements
You may want to publish your vision, mission and values statements on your website and marketing materials and at your retail site. This is an excellent way to let current and potential customers, clients and partners know what your business stands for.
Refer to your statements whenever you struggle to make a decision. Perhaps you are considering taking on a new type of project that doesn't quite fit into the type of work you have done before. Is it in line with your business' mission? Will it help your business achieve the vision you established? Make your decision in accordance with your vision and mission rather than trying to assess every situation based on individual circumstances that may change. Perhaps you want to give employee bonuses, but are concerned about the effect it will have on your bottom line. Refer to your guiding values. If "reward excellence" is one of your values, and "money is the most important factor" is not on your list, then find a way to grant bonuses. You may need to be creative, either in the form of the bonuses or in the means of finding the money to cover them, but let your values guide you in making it happen.
For insights into using these statements for community organizations, check out the Community Driven Institute.