Leading a Business with Your Values

In today’s more socially, culturally, and environmental aware climate, it’s only natural that value-based and mission-driven businesses would become increasingly common based on the new demands of consumers. Entrepreneurs and business leaders are recognizing the importance of being firm in their values and establishing companies that support causes and strive to find solutions to problems that are much bigger than themselves.

A mission-driven business is one that leads with its values and utilizes the greater good its creating as motivation to push business forward. These are the business models seen in Tom’s shoes, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, and Chobani yogurt. In a recent interview, I spoke about how important it was to establish a mission-driving business for my Co-Founders and I when we were creating Vikera Tequila.

I’m finding in discussions with entrepreneurs that many people are drawn to the idea of building mission-driven businesses, but are afraid that focusing on philanthropy will limit success. I’d argue that, in fact, if businesses follow 3 guidelines, they are very much capable of being successful and profitable while contributing to the greater good.

1. Allow your values to create the foundation for your business

There’s many ways to form a business idea and subsequent business model, but I find most commonly with mission-driven businesses that it begins with a call to action to support a cause that the founders are most passionate about.

It’s not always the case, but some of the best examples of companies leading with their values that I’ve seen, derive from first defining what the cause they feel needs the most attention, or what big-picture problem they’re hoping to solve, and then creating a business model that directly prioritizes a set of values that support this mission. This is how Nick Capriccio and I Co-Founded Vikera Tequila to support, empower, and celebrate women in the wine and spirits industry.

There are many worthy causes to get behind, but it’s important to remember that as a business, you can only be truly effective if you run your day-to-day with one specific mission in mind. You can’t save everyone, but you can effectively make a positive impact in one area of need. Select a cause that you are passionate about and become an expert in finding solutions to resolve that particular problem. This will not only stabilize your company’s foundation, but also streamline your focus.

2. Ingrain your values into all business processes

Once your values and core mission is established, a successful mission-driven company will weave these initiatives throughout every part, department, and process of the operations. Your values should be the guiding force for how you do business. They are not simply a list of niceties to be referred to when it’s convenient, but rather they are at the forefront and the very reason for doing business at all.

In my experience, establishing processes and making key decisions with your values in mind may take more time then the usual business practices, however, it eventually becomes the cultural norm and your team becomes accustomed to doing business in this manner. Ultimately, it’s worthwhile to create these habits early on so that your company knows no other way of functioning.

Remember, it’s key that as new processes are added to your business model that your predetermined value set is never compromised. There is room for your values to develop as company culture grows, but the foundational values should remain as your pillars.

3. Scale your values with your business

As your business continues to grow and develop it’s important to continue the mission-driven processes that allowed this growth to be realized in the first place. It’s tempting to allow the functionality of your business to take precedent and to lose sight of the bigger picture that you initially envisioned, but abandoning the value-focused tactics that got you to where you are will only curb your potential success.

It’s likely that your early adopting customers engaged with your product or service because of the values you represent or mission you support, and it would be high risk to redirect focus, ultimately losing those customers. If you’re scaling your business, your values shouldn’t be brushed under the rug to focus on new responsibilities. Quite the opposite, they should become more robust. This not only reassures your customers but also continues to motivate your team, as they never lose sight of the underlying purpose of change they are contributing to.

Scaling your values can be done in many ways, such as: by ensuring it’s a key component of the onboarding process, increasing the emphasis through sales and marketing channels, creating partnered philanthropy initiatives, stressing the importance in company culture through processes and communication, and more. With Vikera Tequila, we make a point of scaling our philanthropy efforts each year and embedding our values in our language. However, the most effective way to scale your values with your business is, as a leader, increasingly embodying what your values represent and continuously demonstrating your passion for the mission your company is supporting.

It may be challenging to set out on the journey of establishing a value-based company, but I firmly believe that mission-driven businesses will become more of the norm and will be the future of effective activism and positive impact.

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