We entrepreneurs long for competitive advantages. #I'm right? Because of this, I want to talk about developing core values ​​for your business and four problems that they can solve.

Competitive advantages enable our small businesses to establish themselves in an industry. They enable our work to make a difference that fits our mission and vision. And they enable our companies to survive the early stages and make it through later stages of maturity, growth and prosperity.

On the surface, core values ​​may not look like competitive advantage. But they are.

Core values ​​bring a lot about your company into focus. The opposite of focus – indeterminacy, randomness, lack of discipline, generality – gets many small businesses into trouble. Building, starting, and highlighting your core values ​​will reduce these risks and allow the benefits to blossom. . . as we shall soon discover.

Various business problems can be solved in whole or in part by introducing core values. Here are four common problems entrepreneurs and small business owners struggle with and how core values ​​can address them:

1. You suspect that your brand positioning is wrong

Are you a service professional who is unsure why more potential customers are not saying yes to your suggestions? Or you're building a brand in a highly competitive market / niche and not attracting the expected traffic and audience growth. And maybe these trends have been real for a while, making you think your positioning is off a bit.

When you have this feeling, trust it. Founders and entrepreneurs need to develop a credible sixth sense for their small businesses. This "Spidey sense" is a powerful ally in the battle against all kinds of operational and growth problems.

The problem here may be that your brand positioning doesn't differ enough from others in your market. This is where the core values ​​come into play. Well thought-out core values ​​give your brand depth. They make you and your brand more authentic, original and accessible. Ultimately, they serve as magnets, attracting and captivating your intended "avatar" – the person you serve and who you support – by sending clear signals that allow these people to align with you.

A word of caution: Don't just develop core values ​​as brand positioning boosters. That could lead to flat values ​​that look and smell like a marketing gimmick. As we'll see later in this article, Core Values ​​are used to solve a number of business challenges, many, if not most, of which are internal. Internal focus is good; It speaks to the real essence of Core Values ​​- what your company believes and how it behaves. This is where the magic of authenticity and originality comes from.

When it comes to internal challenges, one of the most common challenges is getting on the same page with your business partner.

2. You have trouble maintaining alignment with your business partner

If you have a business partner, you know the saying is true: a business partnership is like a marriage. It is full of hopes and dreams for the future as well as the chaotic reality of figuring out how to make these aspirations a reality.

The requirements of a business partnership to find out are bumpy and inevitable terrain. You will encounter disagreements. You will encounter obstacles to decision making. They won't always be on the same page. Therefore, the goal of maintaining a strong and successful relationship with your business partner is to explicitly and intentionally determine how the relationship is to deal with these issues when you encounter them.

Core values ​​provide a way through such difficult terrain. They establish a set of common principles for thinking and behavior. They provide a common basis for decision making. They clarify business priorities when that clarity is lost in the fog of business management.

When alignment with your partner feels strained – and of course it sometimes will – your core values ​​will help both of you return to a collaborative mindset.

The “jointly designed” aspect of the core values ​​is crucial. The effectiveness of the core values ​​is immediately and permanently impaired if you and your business partner have not developed them together. You must both believe in her. You have to respect both of them. And in difficult times, you both have to defend them. When you and your partner have a common cause for your core values, you are well positioned to avoid misalignments that run the risk of undermining the relationship and sabotaging the business.

Core values ​​can also have a positive impact on relationships that go beyond those of you and your business partner. Because when you have a team – especially if it's an in-house team – core values ​​are a phenomenal mechanism for creating performance expectations and solving performance-related problems.

3. Some members of your team are not performing well

Building a team is both a joy and a hardship for a growing small company.

On the one hand, hiring talented people who bring in new perspectives, take on important roles and deliver the results needed is perhaps the most liberating experience for an entrepreneur. When you reach this moment in your company, you are doing many things right. Congratulations!

On the other hand, many founders and entrepreneurs lack the background – and thus the instinct and skills – to lead and promote a team. It's hard work, a lot harder than it looks from the outside. The job-specific expectations must be clear for each role. Company-wide standards must be in place to ensure consistency of performance across the team. As a business owner or co-owner, it is your job to maintain the level of performance at all times.

What do you do when someone's performance is below your expectations? This will inevitably happen. It is irresponsible to avoid the situation because it is uncomfortable. Punishing the person is neither constructive nor admirable. And giving gentle and vague feedback because that is "being nice" is actually unkind because you are depriving the person of a valuable learning opportunity that they can use to develop and grow.

Instead of falling into these traps, rely on your core values ​​to guide your performance feedback.

Hopefully each team member was exposed to your core values ​​when they joined your team. Hopefully you have shown them genuine commitment. And hopefully you have routinely mentioned and strengthened these core values ​​as part of the normal course of business.

Assuming all of these are true, your core values ​​can contextualize your performance feedback in terms of the core principles of how the company thinks and behaves. Attitude issues and skills issues can be addressed equally by reflecting against the established and sacred norms – the core values ​​- of the company. While each person has unique job-level expectations, everyone should adhere to the same standards of general etiquette and performance set forth by Core Values.

Core values ​​aren't just useful for addressing performance issues on your team. They can also be instrumental in recruiting and hiring new talent. If you're struggling to find quality candidates for an open position, it is a good idea to add your core values ​​to the recruiting mix.

4. They do not attract notable candidates

It is an intimidating experience to show yourself and judge others. This is as true in business as it is in dating and in life. And that's exactly what awaits you when you reach this wonderful moment of talent recruiting for your team.

The intimidation factor is stressful enough. In addition, there is the plausible scenario of not attracting qualified candidates for the position. What is wrong with me? Question is real and haunting. I've known many entrepreneurs who have doubts about recruiting, even becoming cynical, for repeatedly struggling to find a solid match for their open positions. I've felt this sting before; It's like going out a lot and never finding the person to click with.

There are many explanations for why you may not be interested in quality in your job. One big thing is that the job description doesn't fully communicate how interesting your company is beyond the tactical details of the job itself. If you just describe the basics of the job, you will not attract remarkable people looking for remarkable careers in remarkable workplaces and cultures. The point is, your job description needs to do a lot more than illustrate the job. It has to show the full breadth of your company's purpose and spirit.

In this context, core values ​​give your job description an almost unfair advantage. If you look around at comparable job vacancies, you will likely see a number of job vacancies that do not reflect the core values ​​of the company (or similar pillar cultural elements such as a mission statement and vision). Your positioning will quickly stand out from the crowd if you take the effort to consider the core values ​​and rationale of your business.

By incorporating core values ​​into your outbound recruiting, you will attract more serious and qualified candidates. When you start interviewing these candidates, discussing your company's core values ​​can help establish a deeper chemistry with them. This can play an important or even crucial role in convincing a candidate that your company is right for them.

These four problems are just the beginning. Once you've established your core values ​​and gained confidence in using them, start looking for other problem areas in your company that may be fixed by applying your values ​​to them.

As you walk, remember that integrity is the very essence of core values. When that integrity is real and expressed through your values, you have a competitive advantage stronger than anything you hope to run and grow your business.

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