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According to Builtin, 46% of job applicants place a high value on company culture, and 47% cite their current work culture as the main reason they’re seeking new jobs. Corporate values influence company culture, which is now one of the most critical aspects of employment.
Founders should be focused on their mission and vision from the ground up. This also helps them understand themselves better and “find their why.” This purpose then spreads across the company under their umbrella and leads the way for others to feel fulfilled at work.
Your story strengthens your values, which strengthens your brand
The ability to understand and articulate your values helps you understand yourself deeper. It’s something that takes thought, introspection and time to work through. You can’t simply decide on a brand story and build your values around it, nor can you arbitrarily pick values that you think will “sound good” and use them as a basis for your story. You will soon find out that does not work out.
While it is common that founders must figure out their mission before they share their story, it can work vice versa: Sometimes speaking to a media coach or mentor helps founders understand themselves and flesh out the details of their mission and story. In fact, even talking to the right journalists who ask good questions can be helpful for digging deeper into the roots of who you are and what you want your company to be.
It’s worth the time and effort to define your personal values and let that be what influences your corporate mission and story. By infusing these essential parts of yourself into your brand, you’re weaving something that resonates as authentic and meaningful into the foundation of your company. Then, when you’re speaking to the media, potential customers or a new team member, your passion and sincerity will be what they pick up on.
Values are dynamic: Don’t shy away from evolution and growth
Many people believe they must cling to a single set of values for their entire lives. Otherwise, they will be perceived as unreliable, untrustworthy or even betraying themselves or their families. The same can be said for businesses, too.
However, research supports that it’s normal and healthy for values to change and adapt over time. For instance, what was important to you as a child may no longer hold the same value as an adult. Or an opinion formed as a teen might not hold up to your lived adult experience. The priorities you have as a single person are likely to shift when you become a spouse or parent. In every instance, it’s reasonable for these value shifts to happen, and nobody would be able to make a serious argument that it was “bad” or “wrong” to make these changes.
In the same vein, the values your company starts with may be different from the ones that serve your goals in a year or three years’ time. Yes, there will be thematic similarities, just like a founder’s personal values will share common threads reflective of their individual identities. An evolving mission is a healthy part of your brand’s storytelling.
The ability to revisit, modify and live out each new iteration of your values is also an integral part of your story. This kind of honesty and transparency shows that you, as the founder (and by extension, the company), are willing to embrace vulnerability, be open to change and stand up for what you believe is right. This is a particular type of strength that only a small number of brands — and people — can claim to possess.
Telling your brand’s story is telling your story, so make it count
In his own talks about values, Mark Manson, author of the bestselling book, The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck, notes that “we are defined by what we choose to find important in our lives.” This is equally true in business. What founders value most will be reflected in their mission and values and will become inextricably woven into the tapestry of the brand’s story.
Our values are fundamental to our identity, and our identity (aka your brand story in a capitalistic world) is what draws people to us. The more authentic and aligned with reality your brand story is, the easier it will be to grow your company and employees that will help you thrive.