If you haven’t already, it is essential to define the core ideology for your business. Why? Because it’s like the foundation of a house and every part of your business is based upon your core ideology.
Business owners without a core ideology often face some of the same problems. They may fall into a trap of simply trading time for dollars, they may not attract the right clients or staff, and they may pursue the wrong opportunities.
In this episode, I talk about why defining a core ideology for your business is so important. I share insight into knowing your why, and the impact that both defining your core ideology and not defining it can have on your business.
In this episode of the Business (R)Evolution Podcast:
- What is the core ideology of your business?
- Common problems that businesses without a core ideology have
- The freelancer trap: trading time for dollars
- Attracting the people who are aligned with your purpose
- Hiring staff with the same ideologies
- What does it mean to have a sustainable business?
- Pursuing the wrong opportunities
- Decision making based on your core values
- How to create your core ideology
- Visions beyond creating profit
- Mission statements vs. purpose
- Why do you do what you do?
- Purpose statement and core values
- You get to create the culture of your business
- Real-life examples of core ideologies
- And more!
Resources and links Joanna mentions in this episode:
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Full episode transcript
There’s a step you may have skipped when you started your business…
And it’s a powerful step…
That you may have skipped it because it didn’t sound powerful; it sounded really dry and pointless….
It’s something you’ve seen other businesses do, see big corporations do it….but,
You probably saw no reason why you would do this…
What is it?
It’s defining the core ideology of your business.
Let me explain what that is, and why it IS actually super important to YOUR business…
Your Core Ideology includes:
- Your values: what you believe in, what is most important to you
- Your purpose: WHY you do the work you do
- Your vision: the impact you want your work to have on the world
Your business’s core ideology is the foundation of your business, like the foundation of a house.
You can try and build walls and a roof and put in windows and a lovely front door without a foundation…but the house will be wobbly and not likely to withstand much daily wear and tear and definitely won’t survive a crisis event like an earthquake or tornado. It will just fall down without a strong foundation.
Your core ideology is the foundation of your business.
Another way to think of your business’s core ideology is as the roots of a tree.
The roots secure the tree in the earth. They anchor it in place and support the trunk, the branches, the leaves and the fruits. And without the roots, nutrients don’t get to the rest of the tree to help it develop those roots.
A tree needs those roots to hold it up and feed it.
Your business needs a strong foundation on which to build.
And if you’ve never explicitly articulated your core ideology – if you’ve never defined what you believe, what you’re really about, why your business exists, what kind of impact you want to make…
Then let me share some common problems businesses without a clear core ideology experience – some of these may be familiar to you:
Problem #1: The Freelancer Trap
Many small business owners fall into what I call “The Freelancer Trap” of believing that their service exists for anyone who needs it. Someone shows up wanting the service, you give it to them, they pay you.
When you take on anyone that will pay you, and you see your business as just a trade of your services for money, your business is just a “job”.
And your service becomes a commodity, rather than a true expression of you, your vision, your values. Usually when someone falls down the Freelancer Trap, they struggle financially and/or don’t particularly love their work – because they’re just trading time for dollars.
This truly is a trap, one in which you end up with a business that’s draining and unfulfilling, and not lucrative either.
The path to a more fulfilling and successful business is to work with people that are aligned with your values and purpose. These are the people that inspire your best work and that provide you energy because it’s so exciting to help them.
Your Core Ideology helps you attract those aligned people, the perfect clients for you, that you love working with and that see the best results from their work with you.
They don’t just need your services. They want you, in particular, because of what YOU bring, because of your core ideology. Your vision, your values, your voice.
As Simon Sinek says:
“The goal is not to do business with everyone who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
Problem #2: Bad Hires
Problem #2 that businesses without a clear core ideology face: Bad Hires.
Hiring other people and building a team to help run your business may be far from your mind right now, but I do want you to think about it and imagine it.
Because to make your business sustainable, you will need to hire help. My definition of sustainability, if you don’t already know, is that your business can run without you. That you can take a 2 week or 6 week or summer-long vacation, and the business keeps running and maybe even growing in your absence.
And yes, there are many aspects of your business that can be automated to achieve that. But it’s likely that you will need to grow a team in the long run, small or big, to help – even if just one single person like an administrative assistant or a tech person.
And many of my clients who have a team in their business, when they first come to me, have had negative experiences with managing staff. They say, “I’m not a good manager.” “Having staff is too complicated and messy and I just want to be on my own.”
Many business owners have experienced crappy performance or even betrayal from employees or contractors, as have I.
How does that happen and how can it be avoided?
It usually happens because we hire based on the skills and experience a job candidate has, rather than a core ideology match.
We get to a place in our business where we’re so eager for help – because we’re overloaded at work – and when a person comes along that has the skillset we’re looking for, we think they’re a good fit.
When really, you can train someone in the skills you need. What you can’t train or teach someone, is to care about the things you care about. To value the qualities you value. To believe in the mission of the business the way you do. To want to have the impact that you want to have.
That’s the stuff you can’t train someone to do or believe…but you can look for people that are already a match in values and purpose.
Your core ideology helps you hire the right people, that are in alignment with your values and purpose, who want to be part of that movement you’re leading, and want to help business grow and thrive because they believe in your mission.
The right people for your team may not already have all the skills that you need, but if they are in alignment with your vision and values – your core ideology – they can and will want to learn the skills.
Once I figured that out and started hiring based on core ideology, I had people contacting me from afar asking if I had openings, even when I wasn’t hiring. I had someone move from across the state to join my team. These were people that wanted to be part of something they believed in, and you can bet that they helped grow the business, because the business itself was a movement based on shared values. They were awesome employees.
Problem #3: Pursuing the wrong opportunities
A couple years ago, when my current business was still quite new and I wasn’t making enough money yet, an opportunity came my way.
I met a man that owns a large, seven-figure business, that provides sales teams to some of the biggest names in the online business world. So, for example, an online business owner that has a course will pay him to provide a trained team of people that can step into the business and do sales calls and enroll new clients in the course.
The man who owned this business invited me to pursue a position in his company, training those teams.
And even though this opportunity may have opened other doors, introduced me to new people, gotten my name out there, and given me more income – which I really needed at the time – I turned him down.
My purpose in business is to help build a more just and sustainable world through my work. I do that by helping practitioners and coaches – that are helping people achieve health, happiness, and fulfillment – build profitable and sustainable businesses doing this important work.
And I love teaching how to do sales to my students, because I KNOW that it’s being used for good. I only accept clients with businesses that are aligned with my values.
But if I were training random sales teams, I don’t know how those sales people might use what they learned from me. The sales process I teach is deep and meaningful, and it works, and I want to make sure it’s only used by people that are doing work that will make a more just and sustainable world.
So I turned down this opportunity and had no problem with that. It was a fairly simple decision for me, because I knew my core ideology.
I’ve had clients that were offered similar business opportunities, where someone else reached out and wanted them to be part of building a new business venture…and it can be flattering and exciting for someone to have picked up for something like this…
But that doesn’t mean it’s the right move for you. And to figure out whether it is or it isn’t, you need to know what your values and vision and purpose are in your business.
I’ve had multiple clients that had leasing decisions to make on their brick and mortar offices…like, when a lease is up, and perhaps a landlord is raising the monthly cost – the practitioner has to decide whether they’re going to stay there and for how long – whether a change in location is the right move, whether purchasing property is the right move…and all of that decision making rests on what your vision, values and purpose in business are.
Your core ideology guides decision-making around new opportunities, new programs you might want to develop, around who you collaborate with – as well as threats or problems that come up in your business.
Your vision, your values, your company’s purpose – these matter.
So I am suggesting that you spend some time to create or refine the core ideology behind your business.
So how do we do that?
How to Create Your Core Ideology
I use the core ideology framework laid out by Jim Collins, a guru in business leadership and a former Stanford Business School professor.
He’s written several books and in one “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” he and his research partner shared the results of their research into 18 exceptional and long-lasting companies, asking the questions, “What makes them exceptional and enduring?”.
One of the answers to that question was that these companies were visionary. They were founded on a vision and values that were beyond simply creating profit. And these were massive corporations he was looking at, like 3M, Ford, Walt Disney.
They each had a purpose.
And that’s part of what you need to create for your core ideology. A company purpose, stating why your company exists.
Now, many people in business will refer to this as your mission statement. And if you choose to publish it on your website, or incorporate it into your bio or a talk you give, you might decide to call it your mission statement, and that’s totally fine. Other people will understand that term “Mission Statement.”
I personally don’t use the terms “Purpose” and “Mission Statement” interchangeably, because most “Mission Statements” I see are more like statements of WHAT the business does, rather than why.
And what I’m talking about with your purpose, is WHY your business does what it does.
It’s not WHAT your business does, or HOW your business does it, it’s the WHY. It’s your WHY.
If you’ve never heard Simon Sinek’s 2009 TedTalk, it’s short and worth a watch – it’s what his book ‘Start with Why’ is based on.
“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. The goal is not to do business with everyone who needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”
So why do you do what you do? What’s your why? And what do you believe? What is the change you want to see in the world?
So the first part of your Core Ideology is your Purpose, why your business exists.
I want to note that your company’s purpose is not a tagline.
Your purpose statement is not a marketing message. It’s not for promoting your business.
It doesn’t need to sound catchy or clever, or roll off the tongue.
What it does need to do is simply and effectively communicate why your business exists in this world.
That needs to come from your mind, your heart, and your gut.
These words DO need to represent your feelings, your beliefs, what you’re really about.
Their essence can and should be reflected in your communications with leads, prospects, and clients.
But they are not marketing statements in and of themselves.
They are for YOU, internally, inside of your business, to use as a guide for ALL of your strategic decisions, like:
- Deciding what services or programs to offer, and which to drop
- Deciding who to hire, and who to fire
- Deciding which marketing strategies to pursue, and which to ignore
- Deciding which business collaborations are right for you, and which are not
When you read your company’s purpose out loud, you should feel it inside of you. You should be able to feel the hope and possibility that you are creating in the world with your business.
Now a second essential piece of your core ideology is your
Values, your Core Values.
Your Core Values are the fundamental beliefs that you want to guide your business.
Declaring your business’s core values is your chance to really share what you believe and you want the community that forms around your business to also believe and understand.
So a good way to start writing your Core Values is to answer the prompt, “I believe…”
What do you believe about the industry you work in, about the clients you serve, about how change is made, about the world as it is now or the world you want to build?
What values and beliefs do you want to guide your business?
So, your purpose statement and core values are the essential pieces of your core ideology – and you should have at least those to guide your business.
Once you’ve given this some thought, and and declared your values and your purpose, you may find that you have more to say.
Go ahead and say it.
You might have a Vision Statement.
You might have a Manifesto.
You might have Client Success Principles.
You might have Staff Success Principles.
YOU get to create the culture of your business…
And that is so powerful. YOU get to create the business YOU WANT.
So for some examples, you might want to think of some of your favorite companies, big or small, local or international, people you know personally that have businesses you admire…
You might want to go check their websites and see what THEY have published to declare their mission, their vision and values.
You’ll probably see different formats, some businesses will have an essay explaining their mission or purpose, some will list measurable goals that they’re trying to achieve.
There’s not one agreed upon format in the business world for how this looks.
And furthermore, some companies may publish a more public-facing version of an internal core ideology document.
The reason to check out other businesses’ core ideology is to be inspired. See what you like. See what stands out to you. See what doesn’t land, what you don’t want to do.
And I’ll give you some examples here:
Clear Purpose Statements:
The purpose of Ted.com, the organization behind TEdTalks is:
The purpose of the Lego company:
Inspire and develop the builders of tomorrow
Jamie Oliver’s purpose statement:
Help as many people as possible eat better food and live a better life
Build the best product
Cause no unnecessary harm
Use business to protect nature
Not bound by convention
(And each of those value statements has a paragraph underneath explaining it.)
But here’s the main Guiding Principles:
We commit to our craft.
We minimize waste.
We embrace differences.
We dig deeper.
We lead with optimism.
The Southern Poverty Law Center published a Vision statement that says,
“A world in which everyone can thrive and the ideals of equity, justice, and liberation are a reality for all.”
The Vision statement for the ACLU San Diego chapter is:
A just and fair society in which all can participate, prosper, and reach their full potential.
So those are some examples of core ideology.
Like I already recommended, try looking up a company or organization that you are loyal to or admire…and see if you can find a statement about their core values, or purpose or vision.
And then it’s time for you to declare your vision, and your values, and purpose as a business.
Bernadette Jiwa, in her book Story Drive: You Don’t Need to Compete When You Know Who You Are, says:
“At the heart of every great business is a clear sense of purpose and vision for the future its creator wants to see.”
“It’s vital to imagine how what you’re working on creates change and to articulate your reasons for wanting to do it. Why you? Why this? Why now? Why for them? Why there? Why that way and not this?”
“Visionary entrepreneurs and successful companies consistently act in alignment with their values because they know who they are and who they want to become.”
So, I’m going to leave you to think about that: What do you believe? What change do you want to see in the world? Why do you do the work that you do?
Articulating your core ideology is a powerful – and essential – step in building a fulfilling and lucrative business you love.
Ok that’s it for this one friends, I hope it inspires you to craft your core ideology.