“Brands are facing a new competitive landscape in which self-definition, core values, and purpose will increasingly define their ability to reach customers that only allow what is meaningful in their lives to pass through their filter.”

— Simon Mainwaring


As a business owner, your personal core values become part of the guiding principles that dictate how you will tend to day-to-day operations. These core values will help you determine if you’re on the right path and fulfilling your life goals or whether you’ve started to stray. An important part of your success as an entrepreneur is utilizing these values, but it begins by discovering and defining them.

What Are Core Values?

Your personal core values are preferences, activities, or behaviors that you are naturally drawn to. They represent the essence of who you are and define how you want others to know you. As a business owner, your personal core values will parallel your business values and guide your business processes. Your core values will articulate what you stand for and why you do business the way you do. Your core values require no external justification: if it’s important to you, that’s all the confirmation you need.

Why Are Core Values So Important?

If you want to find success as an entrepreneur–and define that success beyond monetary values and include personal fulfillment–you must utilize all your core values in your business. If a core value is missing in your business, you will feel as if a key component is missing; your business will not operate at full capacity – and neither will you.

From the dictionary, value means “to consider with respect to worth, excellence, usefulness, or importance.” The more of your core values your business embodies, the more your business will be reciprocated with value or money. In your values lie the expert component of business owners. You love researching, reading about, and doing the activities, preferences, and behaviors that you are passionate about. You automatically become an expert in those things. When you are doing what you love to do, you and your business are on the path to your success.

Your business’s core values will also help educate customers about what you do and why they should choose you over your competitors. Today’s consumers are increasingly concerned with the values of the companies they patronize; it pays to be bold and let them know who you are. Plus, when you’re ready to hire on some help, your core values will help attract those who share your passion and vision to form a better long-term partnership.

Core Values in High Places

As a business owner, how many high-profile business owners have you researched or taken the time to learn about?

Everyone that I have read about discusses the absolute importance of knowing your core values and encompassing your business around those values. In his book, Berkshire Beyond Buffett, Lawrence Cunningham details how Warren Buffett embeds his core values into every company he buys and runs. Buffett’s “secret sauce” is his insistence on the following values: integrity, frugality, and trust. A famous quote from Buffett advises us to “do nothing that you would not be happy to have an unfriendly but intelligent reporter write about on the front page of the newspaper.” Wise words, indeed.

In an interview for Fast Company, Stedman Graham discusses the importance of building skill sets around what will enhance your core values. He told the magazine that success is found from the “combination of really focusing on who you want to be, what you want to do, then organizing people around that passion and that purpose.” He continues by saying that “the first step is identity, every company should work to figure out who they are and who they’re going to be… You can’t afford to have somebody else define your existence because whoever defines you will define you as less than them.”

Finding Your Core Values

Only you know who you are and who you want to be. However, it can be challenging to find the best questions to ask yourself to clearly articulate those values and then take steps to incorporate them into your work. If you’re ready to discover what is really driving you as an entrepreneur and put those values to work finding success, I’m ready to help.

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