When I took Ballyhoo Digital from a years-long side project to a full-time endeavor, with a plan for growing it into something bigger than myself, I had some rough ideas about what I wanted my company to look like and how I wanted it to operate.
Those rough ideas crystallized as Ballyhoo began to grow and I learned more about the types of clients I liked doing business with, how operations would work with actual employees, and more. One of the biggest takeaways from that growth was the realization that I could make decisions much more easily with well-defined core principles.
The core principles represent the values of your company, and should be seen as the guideposts for your business. One well-known example, particularly in retail, is “the customer is always right.” Now I don’t agree with this one personally but if that is a guiding principle of your organization. you know exactly what to do when a customer comes to you with an issue.
You may not know with perfect clarity what your core principles are when you start out, and that’s okay. Hopefully you have some notions beyond just making money, as that is probably the way to least personal fulfillment and least success.
If you need help defining those values, take a look at why you started your business in the first place. Chances are you felt you could do what you do better than someone else, or maybe better than another company you worked for. Look at what you didn’t like about how they did business, and see if that helps define how you want to do business.
I can offer a couple of examples from my own company. One is radical transparency. Starting from our first meetings with prospective clients, we are 100% honest about whether or not we think we can help them. If we don’t think we can bring any real value to them for the money they’d spend with us, we let them know up front. The mantra that “we’re not in this just to cash checks” means we can readily turn down opportunities that aren’t good for both us and the client. There are no tough decisions to be made there.
Likewise, once we have a client, our efforts are focused entirely on their success. I tell my employees that they will never get in trouble by doing something that is in the client’s best interest. With this as a guiding principle, my employees are not afraid to make decisions and try new things.
When you have clear guiding principles, you spend less time agonizing over decisions because you more readily know what fits into your vision and the path forward.