Values – the importance of writing them down
I took such an interesting course at the beginning of January – it was about ‘Purpose Mapping’ and discovering what your purpose is and actually identifying the values that are most important to you both in business, but also in your personal life.
The course was run ‘online’ via a Zoom call, so it was really interactive and great to be able to talk to other members on the course, as well as to the trainer. There was a great workbook that included easy to follow exercises. I highly recommend it – it was run by Nici Gorman from Dare to Be Well.
I wanted to blog about it and what I learned because it raised some really important things for me that I have been able to implement when helping clients write down their values and philosophy. Along with the mission and vision of a business, this is the first thing we focus on in a business plan, and forms the introductory section of the ‘Write your business plan‘ workshops I run with Samantha Hunter.
Below, I explain a little bit more about how thinking about my purpose in business and what I want to help my clients achieve and how, help me to define my values and also how knowing your values can help you create relevant, ‘on brand’ content.
What’s the point?
Identifying your purpose
So after doing the Mapping course I came to two main conclusions – that I see that I have two ‘sets’ of purposes. One set is about what I want to do for me, to make me happy and content and the second set is about how I want to help my clients and how I want them to see me.
When I considered my purpose in light of my business and how I want my clients to see me, I came up with three key terms to help me define this.
The first was to be ‘facilitator’, not only creating good content but helping people to help themselves to do it and asking the right questions to ensure the content I produce on their behalf ‘works hard’ for them.
The second was that I want to be seen as a ‘motivator’ because I know how time consuming content creation is so I want to provide tools and services that motivate people to do more in their business.
And finally, I see myself as a ‘Connector’ (I love this term) because I am all for supporting fellow small businesses and, importantly, I love telling clients about other clients or supportive businesses and connecting them, as well as telling family and friends about who I meet. I am on the committee of my local business association for this very reason – to raise awareness and help connect people to create effective collaboration.
By understanding your purpose and what you are trying to achieve through you business as a sole trader is really helpful in identifying what are your values, the things that really matter the most to you. How do you ‘do’ your purpose?
Writing your values
So now I have shared mine. Start thinking about your own ‘role’, your own ‘purpose’ through the services or products that you offer. The best way to do this is imagine how your best friend or biggest fan would describe you. Be brave. Don’t be shy or coy…be bold and truly think about what is important to you and what amazing characteristics you have. Don’t be modest!
Now, you have defined yourself in a business context (although you can do personal too), think about what words can be used to describe these as values. They may be the same words they may be different.
So for example, using my purpose as a ‘motivator’, one of my values is ‘To motivate’ – I want people to exhibit their business in the best possible light through the content they create, through content they are proud of and through content that when they read it themselves or share it, it makes them feel super proud and happy about their business and themselves.
I recommend writing a word or phrase that sums up your value and then write an explanatory sentence or two about what the value means to your business and your clients, explaining ‘the why’ and ‘the how’ of your value.
Creating your content around your values
One of the considerations when creating content is exactly the same for any business decision…that is, if it doesn’t fit with your values then don’t do it. You know when you make a decision that isn’t in line with your values that it won’t sit well. You’ll keep going over it in your mind; you won’t sleep properly and you will doubt yourself.
Only this week I saw a long Facebook discussion about using swearing in social media and marketing for a business and whether this was ‘right or wrong’. Many people used terms like ‘unprofessional’, ‘unnecessary’ and ‘off putting’, but also what about being ‘authentic’ or ‘true to yourself/your personality’. My point is not to identify whether swearing is right or wrong, it is about highlighting whether it fits with your brand and your style and ultimately both of these things should encapsulate your values and how you put them across through the content you produce.
So taking one of my professional values (and my purpose) as an example, I want to facilitate the creation of good content, therefore in the content I offer I try to create items which will help, like quick win ideas and top tips. I also write blogs that hopefully facilitate people to write blogs, website content and regular newsletters. This type of content illustrates my value of facilitation.
Spend some time thinking about your values
Spending time thinking about your purpose and the values that are important to you is not wasted time. It really is a great exercise. Start brainstorming. Find a thesaurus and really find the word which absolutely encapsulates the meaning you want. You can’t be wrong, it is about what is really important to you. Have three, have six, have ten – it really is up to you – they are the pillars which uphold your business.