core values

How to Identify Your Core Values and Align Them with Your Business Model

As an entrepreneur, it’s crucial that your business model and your personal core values are aligned in order to achieve long-term success.

The truth about entrepreneurship is that each of us gets to create our business in a way that works best for us, yet many entrepreneurs leave lousy workplace conditions only to replace them with self-imposed constraints and rules in our own businesses.

Similarly to how miserable it becomes to show up for bad working conditions, it becomes even harder to continue running a business that doesn’t align with your needs and values. Why is this? At a job, you have responsibilities to your bosses and colleagues. At your business, you are the only person to answer to.

If your business model goes against who you are, you will eventually reach a point where you fail to find motivation to continue operating your business.

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What are core values?

Your core values are your highest priorities, deeply held beliefs and motivating factors. They are the elements of life that drive you. They are the things that would cause your life to feel meaningless if you did not experience them on a regular basis.

Why is it important to address your core values in relation to your business?

Giving yourself permission to build a business based around your core values makes the journey of entrepreneurship easier because you’re not fighting against yourself.

It’s been common practice in the past to identify good business opportunities based on potential revenue-based metrics. This has led many entrepreneurs into businesses that go against what drives them and what they need to feel fulfilled. As the founder of your business, it’s impossible to build a successful business if your personal needs are in opposition to your business model.

Over the last six years, I’ve elected to close two businesses because they weren’t in alignment with my top core value of freedom. The first business was a fashion label and the second was an events-based company. Both of these businesses required me to give up my freedom due to the nature of an inventory-based company and a company that demanded my presence at in-person events multiple times per month.

The conflict each business created with my core values elicited within me an animosity toward each business, which left me feeling angry at the end of each day.

In order to design a business around your core values, you must first begin by identifying your core values.

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Here’s the process I lead my clients through to identify their core values:

  1. Identify 10 values or priorities which you cannot live without in your life. A few examples to get you started include integrity, balance, compassion, creativity, joy, recognition, and service.
  2. Once you’ve identified your 10 values, eliminate four of them. Eliminating these four doesn’t mean they’re irrelevant to your life. It simply means the remaining six hold more weight.
  3. Define the remaining six values in your own words and identify why each of them are important to you.
  4. Review the remaining six values and determine if any of them have overlapping definitions. If so, combine the similar values. For example, joy and happiness may boil down to the same essence once you define them, which means they can be combined, or one of them can be eliminated.
  5. Whittle your core values down to the top three. These three values should be the ones that are non-negotiable. If these values weren’t in your life, you wouldn’t be you.
  6. After you have completed your list and definitions of core values, begin to identify how these values are currently expressed in your life. What are the ways in which you live these values in your daily life?

Once you’ve completed this exercise, it’s time to begin identifying how your core values intersect with with various business models.

To begin, let’s review a few different business model options, such as:

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Every decision you make surrounding your business foundation, development and growth should be filtered through their alignment with your core values. This means that each potential business model should be examined through the lens of how it aligns and/or does not align with your core values.

For example, if you determine that your top core value is connection, a brick-and-mortar business model might be a great fit, whereas an e-commerce model may not be. On the other hand, if your top core value is autonomy, a membership model could be aligned, whereas an event-based model could be unaligned. If you have a core value of teaching, an affiliate-based model might not provide fulfillment, whereas a service-based model could provide satisfaction.

Of course, once you identify the most aligned business model, it’s just the beginning. From there, it’s time to develop a business plan to identify your customer, build the foundation for your operations, kick off your marketing and launch your idea out into the world!

Key takeaways

Building a business based on your personal values helps to ensure longevity because it means your needs and core values are being met through your work.

If you want to remain motivated to operate your business, it must be a business model that you’re aligned with from the inside out. Otherwise, you run the risk of feeling the exact same way you felt having a day job, which could inevitably force you to walk away from your business.

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