From the archives… reflections from my days running a photography business.
Early on I created a list of values I wanted my team to take to heart and commit to upholding every day.
This list has been reviewed and tweaked annually, but has not changed in essence since the beginning. It’s not really surprising: I started my business because I wanted to do things differently in my industry, and because I wanted to create something where I could continue to do what I love – helping people creatively. Though my business brand and offerings have changed significantly since I started, my ultimate motivation and feelings about what is right remain the same.
So here are New Work Photography’s Values:
- Creating high quality, artistic work
- Sensitivity in working with clients
- Working with style, professionalism and polish
- Exceptional delivery
- Supporting the growth of local artistic talent
Each of these values is then broken down into specifics of how we ensure we achieve it.
For example, number one above, ‘Creating high quality, artistic work’ has several points under it, including:
- The work is informed by business and marketing theory and practices to best meet the needs of the client’s business and personality/brand
- Always striving for originality, creativity and fresh approaches
I know what you’re thinking: so you’ve written a list, well done. So what, right? As I said, it’s important to me that my team and I live these values – and what’s more, people are chosen to join us because they already demonstrate them. This ‘list’ underpins our written procedures for everything we do, it underpins training, it underpins our marketing efforts and the types of products and services we provide. If you can’t tell – I’m proud of this list, and that’s the way it should be with your Values statement.
As I’ve muddled along through the adventure of running a business, as I’ve seen more and learned more, my values list has been further cemented in my head. I’ve become more and more certain that defining my values and striving to live them have made my business special and strong, a place people want to turn to for help.
A year ago I started a Business Mastermind group – a gathering of my girlfriends who each run their own established business. We meet for coffee once a fortnight and support each other through the highs and lows of what we do. It’s also been a great forum for discussing, comparing and defining values (and many other parts of our businesses), and I can’t recommend enough starting your own group, hand-picking people who fit with you in terms of experience level and energy, regardless of industry. This group can help you clarify your values and define them in words so that you and your team have a tool to make decisions by. Of course, meeting with your team or a cross-section of your best customers can also be a valuable way to nut out your Values Statement.
Developing a list of values for your business will not only help you to make the best decisions for your business every day, but will send a message to your target market that you are people with integrity and purpose – and I can’t think of a sales technique that’s more powerful than that!