The phrase “core values,” applied to business, has come to mean the beliefs guiding the actions of a company, uniting its workers and defining the brand. They’re the expectations of conduct to which an organization’s leadership and everyone within the company can hold themselves. They also set a level of expectation in the marketplace, which customers can use to decide if they want to do business with a given website. Therefore, defining core values is key to setting up your ecommerce store. Having these guidelines indelibly recorded will help you deal with ambiguous situations and simplify the hard decisions you’ll face as the leader of your business.
Here’s how to do so.
You Already Know Them
As the guiding force behind your ecommerce store, you already know what kind of business you want to run. You also know how you want your customers and the public to see you. Now it’s time to articulate these principles so you can create an organization that functions according to your guiding values. You may find putting them into words a bit daunting initially—and that’s perfectly fine.
Start by asking yourself the following question, then write down the answers so you can refine your concrete values.
What’s Important to Me and Why?
Make a list of every response you can think of and keep going until you’ve exhausted every possibility. Draw from every aspect of your life. In addition to business, include your family experiences, personal relationships, education, hobbies — every single aspect of your world. When you expand the question to encompass your entire life, you’ll find relevant concerns you may have missed had you focused specifically on business.
A Theme Will Emerge
Answer this question honestly and record your realizations. You’ll see a pattern within them. This will be the theme around which your core values statement will revolve. Once you’ve identified that theme, you can begin to draft a statement based upon it. Focus on the strengths those realizations reveal. Look for the emotions underpinning them and use them to articulate the principles. People always respond to feelings, so make yours known.
By the way, these values will eventually guide the look, feel and messaging of your ecommerce store, so define them before you even choose a free website template upon which to build your online presence.
Expand Upon the Themes
Once you’ve defined a list of three to nine such ideas, take each one separately and expand it into a paragraph defining its application to your business. For example, if one of your values is to treat every customer fairly, write a paragraph about what that means for your particular situation, whether it’s giving customers the benefit of the doubt — or seeing to it they always get good value for their money spent. Whatever it is, put it in writing. Then, should you ever have to decide in this regard, you’ll have a guiding principle upon which to base that determination.
Write in Everyday Language
We’re talking business here, and a digital business at that, so temptation to use jargon like “transparency,” “innovation,” “verticals“and the like might surface. Don’t succumb to it. Keep your values statement as simple as possible to reduce the potential for ambiguity. Keep in mind, as your business grows, you’ll be confronted with many new challenges. Written in simple language, your values statement can provide you with clarity when you need to decide how best to proceed.
Defining core values is key to setting up your ecommerce store. Just as the Constitution of the United States of America is the document upon which the values of our nation rests, so too will this serve as the bedrock upon which your business will be built. Taking time to create this list during the planning stages will set up your ecommerce company to garner respect and trust.