Why it's nice to be nice
One of the things I constantly hear as a small business owner is that you have to align your business with your values. I initially felt a bit apprehensive about creating any type of value statement because I’ve worked in large organisations where this was nothing more than a list of platitudes that didn’t reflect the day-to-day reality of the organisation.
But since starting out as a ‘company of one’, it’s something I’ve given more thought to. We tend to know how our values are manifest by considering the causes we care about and the things we consider important, but how do you sum these up in a single word or phrase?
It's not that easy because the last thing you want to do is create a list of business buzz words that don't truly represent you as a person.
We've all seen the flashy corporate websites - 'We stand for integrity, honesty and professionalism' - but are these really values? Yes, they are important qualities but aren't they the very basic qualities that everyone in business should demonstrate?
Knowing your core values helps you to:
visualise how you want your business to develop
determine what type of clients you’d like to work with (and the ones you don’t want to work with)
understand what make you different from other businesses in the same industry.
Now I have to say quite honestly, I’m really lucky to work in the translation industry because translators are a kind, considerate and helpful bunch of people. Sure, it has its fair share of pedantic, nit-pickers who are gleefully looking for typos in every exchange but fortunately they are in the minority. It’s a collaborative industry that welcomes and helps others.
But not all industries are like that. Some people in business feel that being aggressive, rude and underhanded is the way forward. In fact, they thrive on this type of behaviour. Others feel that it reflects the world we live in today. Some might think I’m being naïve.
I disagree. I believe it is counterproductive. And I’ve worked with some excellent senior managers who are proof of what I mean.
You can call it karma if you like. The notion that your actions will cause a corresponding reaction. We see that playing out in everyday life. In Scotland we have the saying ‘What goes around comes around’. Regardless of what you call it, the principle is the same – ‘you reap what you sow’.
Now, I’m not a religious person. But I do believe that if you are honest, open and professional you’ll attract like-minded individuals who display similar positive qualities in their business dealings. Kindness begets kindness.
And, more importantly you’ll be a reflection of your ideal client.
One of my favourite sports clothing brands in the UK is Gymshark. It’s a vibrant, young company but what I like is their attitude - one of their mantras is ‘Don’t be a dick’. One of their values is ‘Give a shit’. Or without the swear words – be a decent person, and make a positive contribution to the world around you.
And that attitude resonates with me, which is why I’ve decided to adopt ‘Create good karma’ as one of my business values. Because that’s how I feel when it comes to dealing with other people, finding (and being) an ideal client, how I feel about the environment, injustice and the world around me. It sums up my attitude to life.
And I think that’s pretty neat.