Values in Action

It is my pleasure to serve as guest blogger here today at Business Pundit. My normal home is over at The Entrepreneurial Mind.

Rob asked me to talk about execution in business. In the entrepreneurial segment of the business world proper execution can prove to be a more significant task.

It can be the potential entrepreneur who is a victim of paralysis by analysis in the business planning process; tweaking the plan over and over for months and months, unwilling to pull the trigger. It can be in the area of personnel, where an entrepreneur knows they need to let someone go, but finds reason after reason to postpone the inevitable. It can be the entrepreneur who knows that her business needs to change direction due to a dynamic market, but is too busy putting out fires day-to-day to give strategic change the time and attention it needs in her business.

The type of execution that I think is actually one of the most formidable challenges is putting one's values into action in how the entrepreneur runs his business. Many entrepreneurs come into their businesses with a strong set of rights and wrongs in life, often based on their faith. They believe that values such as honesty, integrity, fairness, compassion and so forth are fundamental to who they hope to be as a person. But, putting these values into action in their businesses often turns out to be much more difficult that they ever imagine.

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When I challenge entrepreneurs to think about how their core values will come into play in their decision making, in managing their employees, in dealing with customers, many find this type of discussion too daunting to tackle with all of the details required in a business start-up. So, they gloss over any specific commitment by simply making some grand statements about their values and ethics without committing to any specific actions.

And yet, we spend so much of our lives in our work. Work defines much of who we are, so if we can not find ways to bring our core values into action in how we run our businesses, are they really core values after all? Are they really what define what is ethical for us in everyday life?

So, when entrepreneurs write a business plan I insist that they start the plan with their core values. I have them define what they mean and even where their values come from, be it their family, their culture or their faith. Then I have them go one step further and give a specific example or two of how they intend to implement this value in their businesses on a practical, daily basis.

Committing to specific actions can go a long way to helping insure that our core values and ethics are not just lofty words, but guide our real actions.