Why Company Values Matter (Even for a Company of 1)
Whether or not you already have a set of company values, you can always reflect on them to see if they are still in alignment with who you are, what you want your company culture to be, and where you want your business to go.
Episode 18: Why Company Values Matter (Even for a Company of 1)
Karyn Paige, Sam Munoz
Sam Munoz 00:00
There are times when you see companies trying to expand outside of what their actual values are to accommodate what they think people want them to say. And it comes across very inauthentic anyway. And so that’s not what we’re talking about, right? We’re talking about creating values based off of you as a person and what you want your company to stand for, what you want your company experience to be for your clients, and what aspects of different things that you care about your pulling into your business. Like you said, Karyn, those things could be things like female empowerment, for example, that’s a part of our values. And that is definitely a part of a social movement, right? But everyone doesn’t have to have that as their value. Welcome to making website magic where we empower women to step boldly into their web design businesses follow their intuition and claim the success they’re worthy of. I’m Sam Munoz.
Karyn Paige 00:56
And I’m Karyn page, where the tech wizards behind Sam Munoz consulting on the making website Magic School of Business. We’re two women here to talk about what it actually takes to run a web design business that’s aligned with your vision.
Sam Munoz 01:08
Spoiler alert, it probably isn’t what you think it is ready to hear about everything from refining your business vision, networking with intention and creating a magical client experience. Let’s do it.
Karyn Paige 01:26
Hey, Sam. How’s it going?
Sam Munoz 01:28
It’s good. Am I super echoey? No, I’m in my new office and it has nothing in it. And it’s very yellow, and different. And I’m setting the mood, the vibe, right listening to the podcast, you want to know where I’m at where I’m sitting. So that’s where I am in an echoey room with lawn mowers literally surrounding my home. I am being flanked by lawn mowers. So if you hear it in the background, I apologize. But you know what, this is what we do. This is the podcast. So hello. That’s where I’m coming from today.
Karyn Paige 02:00
And this is real life. We’re not in like fancy, like soundproof booths and stuff. Gosh, that
Sam Munoz 02:06
sounds amazing. I have a six year old and that sounds amazing to have a soundproof room. But that is not the topic today. The topic is why company values matter in your business. And we’ve got a lot of thoughts on this. Is it going to be a very thoughtful discussion, I would say. And before we get into it, do you mind if I read a quick review? Yeah, go for it. So speaking of values, and moral compasses, my own mother reviewed the podcast and she said the following. If you are thinking of starting a web development company, this podcast is your first step. What fantastic information these girls really know their stuff highly recommended. Now if my mom did not highly recommend it, I think we’d have a problem. But also She’s right, we do supply fantastic information. And thank you so much for leaving that review. Mom, I know she listens to the podcast and enjoys every episode, Karyn is a household name in my family. So
Karyn Paige 03:01
likewise, it goes both ways. Thanks to supportive moms. Right? Yes. So that particular review also kind of ties into what we’ve been talking about today on why company values matter. Because I feel like when people, myself included, when we’re starting our businesses, especially as like one person, solo entrepreneurs, that’s the kind of conversation or thought work that we’re not doing, right, like deciding on what our company values are. So in service of that, it’s just this, I would love this to be a conversation about what that means what values can do for your business, like, obviously, the topics as it all like, why they matter, like why it matters in your business. And so if you’re listening to this, you have a company and you haven’t created any values for your company. This one’s for you. I mean,
Sam Munoz 03:49
right. And I love that we added like that even with a company of one because that is really that mindset of being a business not simply being a freelancer. But being out here and being a business. We’ve talked about this on the podcast plenty of times building businesses with longevity. And so one way to do that is to start thinking of yourself as a company. And companies have values companies have things like mission statements, values, boundaries, and expectations. So those are the things that we’re talking about in terms of why they matter for your company, not just you as an individual web developer or web designer. Yeah, let’s let’s talk about why they matter.
Karyn Paige 04:26
Okay, so I’m gonna start with this caveat right on why company values matter? We don’t want to say that values equal some sort of like judgment or equal some sort of maybe like social justice movement, right? It’s really important, I think to just address the times that we’re in and over the past year and a half since this podcast has been recorded. There has been a lot of emphasis on companies sharing their values, with the public, with their customers, with their clients with their consumers because this is the age we’re living in, and a lot of clients and customers are making buying decisions based on a company’s values, or sometimes not making a decision based on the company’s lack of values, right. But as we’re having this conversation on defining your company values, identifying what they are, it doesn’t necessarily have to mean that like every company out there is standing up for adjusted moral cause, if that’s what you’re about, please be about it. But sometimes the company’s values can simply be rooted in things that are important to you.
Sam Munoz 05:33
Right? I think that is a really, really important caveat, because I do think that there are times when you see companies trying to expand outside of what their actual values are to accommodate what they think people want them to say. And it comes across very inauthentic anyway. And so that’s not what we’re talking about, right? We’re talking about creating values based off of you as a person and what you want your company to stand for, what you want your company experience to be for your clients, and what aspects of different things that you care about your pulling into your business. Like you said, Karyn, those things could be things like female empowerment, for example, that’s a part of our values. And that is definitely a part of a social movement, right. But everyone doesn’t have to have that as their value.
Karyn Paige 06:19
Correct. It’s a really interesting, like conversation to have, right? Because let’s try to think about to like, even before, you know, all of the like social uprisings of the summer 20, most companies still had some set of values. This isn’t really anything new. But I think that there’s just like a new lens being put on on the whole perception of it. And there’s a new layered and a new like subtext to the conversation. So as you’re thinking about, like, what my values are, I don’t want anybody to feel bad, where it’s like, well, my values are really simple, or my values aren’t tied to any sort of like social movement or anything like that. That’s okay. I firmly believe that values also are connected to who we are as people. And so our own individual values definitely influence our company’s values. So if you’re growing and evolving, but where Let’s meet you where you are right now, and let’s just start there.
Sam Munoz 07:15
Yes, I love that Karyn, and the fact that it’s all something that starts with you, you are the CEO of the company, you’re the person that started this thing, you’re the founder, right? So the company values are naturally going to start with you. And even if you don’t have anyone else on your team, right now, you can start to create a culture of embodying certain things that you care about. And so really, we definitely recommend if you haven’t listened to Episode Three of the podcast, which is about your dream, your vision, all of those things, like coming up with your business, vision, for lack of a better word, listen to that episode, start there, so that you can come back to this one and start thinking about your values from the lens of what you care about as an individual person. And so I do think, with that caveat, aside with the with a caveat that we don’t get to decide whose values are good and not good in their business. Like we don’t get to decide if they’re enough, quote, unquote, we don’t get to decide if they’re big enough, small enough, etc. And by we, I mean, Karyn and I, we don’t get to judge your values. But that aside, let’s talk about why it actually matters to have values in the first place. I think the biggest thing that matters with regards to values is that it can become a guiding light in your business. I love this idea. Because what ends up happening is let’s be very tangible, let’s say your value is simplicity. So if your value simplicity in your business, you know that you are not going to opt in to having 15 different software’s for your clients to use, right, you’re not going to opt in to having a bunch of different freebies that your client journey can go down, like you’re not going to make your business super complicated, because that’s not in line with your values. And so it makes it very black and white decision about do I use this platform? Do I not use this platform, and I love thinking about values and your mission statement kind of combined, and how it can help you direct the future growth of your business.
Karyn Paige 09:02
So what that makes me think about really is just like, overall, like your values tied in with your mission statement, our guiding lights that also remind you of what your business’s purpose is, you know, like, why are you in business in the first place, right. And in service of that you said, for example, if you were to value something like simplicity, like that value probably came from somewhere like it’s not just like some arbitrary thing that you pulled out of the sky. If we’re going down this, this thought experiment of one of the company values is simplicity. It probably came from maybe an experience where you worked in an environment that was really over complicated, right? Or you just don’t like a lot of complicated stuff in your life. So that is why maybe you would uncovered simplicity being a value for you, right? Like for us, female empowerment is something that we value in our company and that comes from a place like that’s not just like some cute, trendy thing that we decided on Unlike that is real because we have been in work environments, personal environments where we do not feel empowered. And so moving forward, that’s part of what we value in our company is to always empower women, right? So, again, you have this this great example, you know, because we love the coffee shop, the web designer for coffee shop, storyline, right. So it totally makes sense that like, someone who’s a web designer for coffee shops, by just value a really good cup of coffee, right? Like,
Sam Munoz 10:31
and that’s why we don’t get to decide whose values are valid or not, right? It’s like, whatever is important to you. And the reason you started the business, the reason you’re serving that particular type of client, knowing what they are, is important. I love what you said about like, it all relates to like your purpose. The reason you started it in the first place, I think what’s so valuable about having company values, even as a company of one is that business gets hard. It gets hard, it gets complicated, it gets muddy, it gets murky, you have options there shiny object syndrome, there are people telling you left and right what you need to buy what you need to invest in how you need to change your business. And knowing what your values are, will keep you directional towards where you want to be going and will route you in your purpose. Even if your purpose is I need to make money for my family and like I want to make enough money so that I don’t have to go to a job in person and commute there. If those things are important to you, and they’re a part of your values, a part of your mission, you will not fail because you won’t let yourself fail because you’re rooted in that purpose.
Karyn Paige 11:34
Yeah, and to your point, like, the longer you move forward through your journey, as a business owner, you’ll also be presented with a lot of opportunities that might not be in alignment with your values that might make you feel like you have to compromise in order to make those decisions. Maybe it’s like the types of clients, you’re working with the types of projects, you’re working with somebody offering you a lot of money in exchange for you compromising your boundaries in your free time and like neglecting parts of your personal life. And so as you approach those decisions that you have to make, or those opportunities that you have to say yes or no to, you can refer back to your values that you’ve established for yourself to help you make those decisions. And those decisions become so much easier. It’s like, is this a yes? Or is this a no? So I’m reminded of nonprofits actually, there’s this thing that they talk about in the nonprofit sector called mission drift. And it’s basically like nonprofits are an organization start with a specific mission of who they want to serve. Right? Not unlike web design companies, right? Not unlike the conversations that we’re having in the making website, Magic School of Business mentorship program, why did you start your business? Who do you want to serve, What’s your purpose, etc. And then this thing happens, sometimes in nonprofits where, because they’re constantly trying to get funded, get grants get money to pay for them, to fulfill their mission, sometimes they end up drifting from that mission, in order to chase the money to stay funded. It’s a it’s literally a phrase called mission drift, right. And that can be applied to any company, any organization, any person who has to make decisions that are tied into money and how your your organization survives. So if you’re really, really rooted in your values, and you’re driven by your values, there’s less likelihood that you will drift away from that, in order to chase money or chase any kind of opportunities, I feel out of alignment for you.
Sam Munoz 13:30
Wow, that’s really powerful. And imagine if you’ve never created values to begin with. So you don’t really know how to make those kinds of decisions and how to be discerning in those opportunities and how to decide does this align with my future as a business or not? You’re just kind of accepting anything that comes in, you can’t make an empowered No, you don’t have clear boundaries and expectations, which I think is another level to values. That is really interesting about the mission drift. And I do think that I think that you can have your, you know, have money and monetary goals be a part of your business purpose. I do think that that’s that makes sense. But I also think it probably helps to have an outside reasoning for your business as well, aside from the money because it can be very tempting to follow it right? When you’re just chasing the dollar, it can be tempting to say, well, this one isn’t quite in alignment with my values, but they’re going to pay me well. So I’m going to say yes to it. And that’s when you start drifting right later, you are so far off from where you want it to be because you’ve drifted so beyond. And that can be scary. Obviously, at any time. You get to course correct at any time you get to decide, I’m going to refine my values. I’m going to decide that now. I believe in this new thing, or I’m going to change my mind about that. At any time. You get to decide that don’t forget that. Right. I think we all often pigeonhole ourselves and say in the past, I thought this one thing that that to be true, but especially as a business owner, you get to change Your mind, and I think if honestly, if 2020 didn’t show us anything, it’s that people do, right, they wake up, they become aware. And you know, sometimes they do add to their values, things that are outside of just, you know, their personal belief system or whatever. I think that that is really important too, and can be very freeing to when you’re thinking about this idea of creating a set of company values that maybe if you have some, and you haven’t revisited them in a while, revisit them now with this conversation in mind and say, Do I still agree with these? Do I still, you know, is this still the direction I want my business to be going in, because in the future, it’s going to serve you so well to have values that you truly, truly buy into your team will buy into them more? We’ll talk about that in a minute. But I think it’s really important.
Karyn Paige 15:44
Yeah, another reason why company values matter, even if you’re a company of one is it lets your clients know what they can expect when they come into your world. And when they work with you. Right, and we’ve talked about it also like boundaries, the word boundaries keeps coming up. And in the business, we’re in having healthy boundaries with your clients, having healthy boundaries with yourself, and how you show up to work are very, very important. And so there might be a nice way to finesse it like, hey, if you want to say I value boundaries, I mean, like, that’s fair, like, that’s totally fair. But maybe, you know, to your point where we talked about earlier, simplicity is a value. Well, here’s how my company lives, the value of simplicity, you can reach me between this hour and this hour, you can’t reach me on the phone 24 hours a day, like all communication is going to go through here. And you can also expect that I will respect that simple time boundary with you Like, I also will not reach out to you my client in the middle of the night. And I also will not reach out to you on the phone on the weekends to have a question answered about your content, like it goes both ways. So it can be, again, when we’re thinking about like our clients and how our clients are making buying decisions, like when we are very clear on our values, and we express them when we let them know, that might inform how they decide to work with us, right? Like, oh, I definitely want to work with Karyn, because I actually don’t want to deal with my website project on the weekend or in the evenings. And she lets me know that everything is simple. And she respects boundaries. She’s the company for me, you
Sam Munoz 17:25
know what I mean? Definitely, I like the idea of like, you can kind of work your boundaries and expectations into your values. Because if say, a value that you have is family, maybe a value you have is kindness, respect, there’s ways to weave that into those time boundaries, to your availability to your price point, like why you’re charging that much like your values can be filtered into all aspects of your business. And I love you brought this up in the very beginning, like clients are making buying decisions based off of company values. And so it’s important to not only have them but also to share them right to share them to embody them to live them. And I think that this idea of boundaries is really interesting. And you know, expectations and how you can stay rooted in those things and also have your values and I was I stumbled across this very interesting thread on Twitter that I want to read. It was posted by Larry on I don’t know if that’s how you say her name, web design and branding. We’ll put the link to the tweet in the show notes. But she’s shared a screenshot between her and a client. And I’ll just read it back and forth. The client said, I paid you 50 $200 I expect you to answer me ASAP. Her response was Hello. You paid me to execute and complete a project for you not to be available to you 24. Seven, I’ve kept in constant communication with you throughout, wouldn’t you agree? client says yes. But for that amount of money, I paid you You owe me your full attention What’s going on? Why did I get a refund. And then it turns out that this particular woman decided to refund that client because she wasn’t respecting her boundaries are the client wasn’t respecting her boundaries. And I thought that that was such a beautiful way to honor your boundaries to honor your values and to say, you know what, one of the things I value is respect, I bet you anything she values respect. And if you know, the big thing about respect is that it’s reciprocated, right? It’s a two way street. And so her standing rooted in that shows everybody who sees this message, like this woman is serious about her business. She is serious about her values. And she’s serious about her purpose here. And I loved that she shared it. That was huge.
Karyn Paige 19:31
Yeah, I mean, like, let’s unpack this, right, like this person is so rooted in their values, that when the values became compromised, the logical choice in that project was to fire the client and give them their money back, right? I don’t want to work with you because you’re not respecting me. One of my values is respect, right? So that’s what I was talking about earlier. Like our values are often informed by our experiences, right? So I can guarantee you that this person if they hadn’t put down one of my company values is respect, that’s gonna be a thing moving forward. And I can guarantee you that this person probably went back to their business admin, their contracts, maybe their email signature, anything it was like this is when you can contact me outside of that. I am I’m not available, you know what I mean? So it’s like, that’s what I’m saying, like, those decisions become so much easier. And you get to a place where you start sharing them so that you can constantly live in this space where like, the values are not compromised, right? So
Sam Munoz 20:31
they matter for you for making decisions. And then they matter for the client to understand what it’s going to be like to work with you and what they can expect in the project before the project and the onboarding and offboarding. Like the entire vibe of your business can be, you know, the VAT like the values can express that.
Karyn Paige 20:48
Again, it’s like the like, let’s say the high level thing, the high level value in this case is respect. And then maybe the sub headers like the HTS, and the the body font below that is boundaries. I won’t ever reach out to you in the middle of the night. And I hope that you would you know, reciprocate, not do the same for me because I respect your time. And I believe that we fit our businesses around our life and not the other way around. Yes, you can have those really high level ideas, and then kind of flesh them out a little bit more. Right. So respect is such a big umbrella term that it’s also like, there’s a lot of different ideas that fall.
Sam Munoz 21:24
Oh, yeah, absolutely. So those are two reasons why company values matter. So just to recap, that was it can act as a guiding light. The second thing is, it can help convey the client experience boundaries and expectations. And then the third thing is really, that I can help you create a company culture for when your team expands. If you’re already embodying certain values, if you already embody a certain mission, and you believe in it, you sign on it, you sign you sign off on it. Yeah, when you bring a team on, right? It’s easier to say, Hey, we’re already operating this way, you just jump on board. And I love that idea that, again, kind of kind of relates to the whole Guiding Light thing. Because if you understand why you make certain decisions, it’s easier for your team to feel empowered to make certain decisions in alignment with those missions and values. Right? It doesn’t have to be like this. Well, you know, case by case, not really sure what we do kind of thing. It’s like no female empowerment. Does this align with female empowerment? No. So it’s a no,
Karyn Paige 22:23
the company culture piece is like, so huge, right? Because when you’re thinking about your team, and if you if you want to expand, you want to have people on your team, right? Like having established values will also attract people that are also aligned with those values, you know, what I mean? Who want to be a part of the company’s culture, which makes for a really great work experience, right? Because you know, everybody’s really like on the same wavelength, everybody’s really aligned, etc. Case in point in one of my former jobs, where I was like, I just need a job right now, like, you’re ready to hire me, I’ll take it. Raise your hand, if that sounds familiar. I didn’t really ask the company like, what are your values, right. And so then I show up to work. And I realized that their target audience was completely 180, from anything that I believed in, personally, Oh, wow. So trying to speak to their customer base and sell to their customer base was, like gut wrenching every single day. And I didn’t know that until I’d already signed on an onboarding, right. So it’s also like, when you’re thinking about who you want on your team, if they’re going to stay company retention, but also, there are potentially people that you might bring onto your team, who are also looking for a great place to work that’s aligned with who they are personally, like, that’s another reason to be rooted in values. And also, you are your own team. Yes. Even if you’re the only person on the team, I’ve had this conversation actually, like in those kind of women, entrepreneur spaces, you know, the groups where we get together, and we talk about what it’s like to be a woman in business, the topic of company values came up and somebody basically raised their hand and was like, Karyn, this is great that that we’re having this conversation about values, but that’s like for like, the big companies like, I’m just me. And my first thought was like, but how are you showing up to work in your own company every day? Like, what is the culture that you have for yourself? What are the values that you have for yourself, because you even though you, the business owner, you are also your own team member? So again, like thinking about boundaries and respect, using those simplicity, right, the values that we’ve kind of been talking about in this conversation, how can you respect yourself as your own team member enough to like, oh, like adhere to things like boundaries or to things like simplicity, you know what I mean? So again, it’s like, constantly just living in the values, just making makes everything so much easier. And then also, if you’re behaving in a way that’s in alignment with your values, if you do decide to bring on a team member, then you’re also leading by example, like, this isn’t just something that is posted on our website. This is like what we actually live, every day that we show up to work in this in this company like this is our culture.
Sam Munoz 25:21
Right. And it’s, it’s like an internal and an external thing. It’s like the culture that you create within the company. And like your values that are lived out, let’s say female empowerment as an example, because that’s a part of our values. That’s something that we live on as a team together, right as a company. And then that’s also something that we as a team, share with our clients, and share with our you know, community. And so it very much is this idea of like creating an experience within your business that is in alignment with the direction you want to go. And I think that we should eventually do an entire episode on this idea of like being a company of one in general. And if you guys are interested in that, please let us know on Instagram that you’d like to hear that episode. But we don’t have to think too big right? I really like this idea that you don’t have to, you can think incrementally you can think like maybe if I had like another team member, or if I had, you know, a very small team, you don’t have to go from like one person to a million people, that doesn’t have to be the direction we’re going. But if your goals look like maybe expanding into a team becoming an agency, you know, there are many different ways you can expand a web design development company. But if you’re thinking bigger, right, if you’re thinking beyond yourself, creating this kind of company culture, creating those values, creating the mission now will be so much easier, right? Because it will really will truly be from the essence, right? It’ll be from the essence of you. And what’s great too, is that when you do expand your team, they assume your values, right. But then also they get to be a part of creating the culture too. And a part of refining those values and making sure that they fit into that and that their own values are infused into the company as well. And I can definitely speak to that. Because I know when Karyn came in, we always refine the business anyway. And I think we constantly check in on like the mission, the values, all the different aspects that create that company culture within and without the business within and on the outside of the business, and having the team support in that way and figure out, you know, what do we all believe in is amazing. But I do think it starts with you. Like many things, it starts with you. So I do believe that creating company values, even if you’re just one person is so so so important.
Karyn Paige 27:33
Yes. Okay, so one, one last thought that circling around for me is like giving a shout out and an honorable mention to the things that we value that we might take for granted that actually make our companies really unique, that tie into kind of our brand identities and like what kind of sets us apart? So I’m thinking of values like celebration, or joy or wellness, or silliness. You know, like there’s, there’s all these kinds of things that that maybe we take for granted a sense of humor, like email, like all these like little things like don’t be afraid to throw in like, one of those wild card, yeah, values into your values that because that is the stuff that’s really going to set you apart, right? Like, I’m literally thinking of not even like a web design company, but like, maybe a company that does party favors, or like kids birthday parties or something, it would totally make sense if they valued celebration, because that’s the business that they’re at, you know what I mean? So like, as designers, maybe you value modernity, or beauty or minimalism, okay, is that how you it’s reflected in your design aesthetic, you know, so never, never take those things for granted. And I guarantee that every company has like that one little thing that’s like just their own. But also, it’s like, kind of lightens the mood, so to speak, you know, because values can feel really heavy a lot of the time.
Sam Munoz 29:05
Yes, no, those are really, really good point. I’m glad to end the conversation about why it’s important there. Because those are the things that make you unique, right? Those are the things that distinguish you I have said this for years, I’ve been I’ve always said like, I am not the only web designer out there, but there’s some there’s a reason that clients gravitate towards me and now us as a company, right? There’s a reason because of your quirks and your uniqueness or your your sense of beauty and your love of art and your you know all these different things that make you you and infusing that into your values. It can be fun, it can be playful, you can have this dichotomy of silliness, uniqueness, however, you know, whatever that value is, and then also it can, you can still have those great values of simplicity, empowerment, social justice, all of the different things that are you know, very deep, they can you can do both, and I love that You mentioned that. So thank you so much. So I think that what’s really important, right? We love to, you know, have the mindset have those deeper discussions and also kind of leave you with something actionable. And so how to get started with deciding your company values, refining them if you already have some. And I think what’s really important and this is just a nice tip, and a closing thought to leave you on as you are thinking about all of these things is start with you. What do you value as a person? What makes you unique? What makes you special? What are things you know, what is your perspective? What is your moral compass, maybe just start listing those things out and see what you’d like to infuse into your business?
Karyn Paige 30:37
Yeah, that’s it. That’s Yes. So doing this kind of inner work, this foundational work is literally like the first topic that we cover in the making website, Magic School of Business, mentorship, and it’s been really helpful so far to to have this kind of inner work done in community like having a dialogue really like understanding and getting to the root of what values are. So if you are interested in doing inner work for your company values for your mission statement, all of those things and getting your business Foundation, solid solidified. Keep listening, and there’s going to be more details on how you can get started with us.
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