Values matter at Summit Financial Resources. As a small business, we know that core values are central to attracting customers, business partners, and top talent, as well as sustaining productivity and maintaining team morale. They also help define marketing messages, human resources actions, operations management, and many of the tough decisions business leaders make over time.

Core values serve as the foundation for your company’s culture and set the ground rules for each and every member of your team. Values are more than just a list of words posted on the company website or displayed on the wall in your conference room. As the principles that guide your business on the path to success, they should be the result of introspection, collaboration, and consensus among you and your team.

Communicating your company’s values differentiates you from your competitors and can make a difference when it comes to winning new customers. People are attracted to values that resemble their own, and letting your customers know what you stand for helps build trust and foster brand loyalty.

Here are three key reasons why establishing and articulating clear company values is critical to the growth of your business over the long term:

Values are the Heart of Your Culture.

Your company culture begins first and foremost with your core values. According to the Harvard Business Review, a cohesive and sustainable culture needs a common set of values that reflect who you are and what your business is trying to achieve in the marketplace. For companies large and small, it has become increasingly important that their culture be infused in everything they do, from operations and human resources to marketing.

As a small business owner, you are the embodiment of your company’s values and standards. You and your leadership team must represent your firm’s culture and exemplify everything it stands for. However, your employees are far more likely to be invested in these values if they have input into developing them. Ask them about their personal values or the characteristics of other successful businesses or business leaders they admire. Invite them to contribute to the company’s value statements. This will give them a sense of ownership and increase their commitment to the future of the business.

As your company grows and your team evolves, consider repeating this process periodically to ensure that your people are in alignment with your company’s values. When they are, it empowers them to make more informed decisions and cultivates a strong, supportive company culture.

It is important that you share your company values with clients, customers, and partners, and invite them to share their values with you. Transparency shows your customers and colleagues that honesty is a core value for your company, which is essential for winning their trust and their business.

Values Define Your Hiring Practices.

One of the biggest challenges facing every business owner is finding the right talent to help your company grow. While statistics vary, there is no doubt that the cultural and financial impact of hiring the wrong people can be significant.

A well-defined set of core values is one of the most useful tools for vetting prospective employees. Developing a hiring strategy that identifies a list of values that all new hires must meet makes it easier to determine if potential candidates are a fit for the company, not just the job.

Include your company values in your job listings and as part of the interviewing process. Emphasize that you are not only searching for a particular skill set, but for someone who can collaborate with and be supportive and respectful of current staff. Hiring people who are aligned with your core values and encouraging team members to hold each other accountable to these standards strengthens your company culture. When your culture thrives, so does your business.

Values Can Boost Morale, Productivity, and Your Bottom Line.

Creating a culture based on values that are inspiring, challenging, and rewarding can have a positive impact on your profitability: culture-conscious companies typically out-earn and outperform their competition. According to Harvard Business School Professor Emeritus James L. Heskett, effective culture can account for a 20% to 30% percent difference in performance between a successful company and its competitors.

A company culture that cultivates fairness, trust, and transparency sets the tone for building long-term relationships with your employees. Small businesses that provide a positive work environment that is fulfilling and rewarding have happier, more dedicated employees. Happy workers tend to remain with a company longer, which results in increased retention rates and sustained organizational cohesiveness. Values inspire motivation on both an individual and collective level, and motivated and cohesive teams are more productive. This ultimately leads to better customer service, increased customer satisfaction, and a healthier bottom line.

Company values are powerful and essential tools for every small business. By investing the time and energy into developing a set of guiding principles with which everyone in your company is aligned, you lay the foundation on which to build a cohesive and productive team and brand-loyal customers.

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Summit Financial Resources specializes in working capital financing for small to medium-sized businesses that need increased cash flow. We provide working capital financing through invoice factoring, asset-based lending, inventory lending, and equipment financing.