5 Reasons why core values are important, even for freelancers and sole traders

When we think about core values, it is typically large enterprises that come to mind. Those huge organisations that need to define their core values in order to shape the culture of their organisations and align the principles and beliefs of their many employees. The values that will keep everyone on track and heading in the right direction.

So, if you’re a freelancer, sole trader, micro business, or any other term you can think of for someone who works alone, do they even matter? Does defining and sharing your core values even make a difference? In short, yes, I think they do matter. A lot.

And as the title of the article suggests, here are my 5 reasons why…

#1 Trust

Although trust is ultimately earned through your actions, it’s important to set out your core values to prospective customers, you’re more likely to attract your ideal client by being clear about what you stand for. Of course you have to live and work by them, you can’t just pay them lip service, but by being clear on what you stand for and then consistently delivering on that is how you build trust.

#2 Direction

Having your core values documented can help to keep you on the right path, and prevent you from veering off course. Think of your core values like your compass, there to help make sure you go in the right direction when changing your plans, and introducing new products and services. Making key decisions regarding your business strategy and plan without keeping your core values in mind is a bit like going into the wilderness without your compass….risky.

#3 Marketing Foundations

Without defining and sharing your core values, you’re missing a key piece of what I believe are the foundations of a successful marketing strategy. Core values help you craft the core messaging that you use in your marketing communications and determine how you talk to your target audience. They help to attract your ideal client.

In this digital marketing age, it’s so easy to communicate with our audiences. We can launch a Facebook post in seconds, it’s almost too easy….far too easy to put bad content out there. 

Keeping your core values in mind when developing content, submitting proposals, and even conversing with your prospects and clients on a daily basis, helps you maintain consistency in your message and its delivery. Consistency is key to building relationships through your content.

“Content builds relationships. Relationships are built on trust. Trust drives revenue” – Andrew Davis

Sharing what you stand for can also be a great content generator. Think of the number of stories you can share with your audience about how these values have come to shape you and your business.

#4 Differentiation

When you share your core values with prospective customers, you are giving them an insight into you and the identity of your business. Nearly half of UK small businesses state that competition in the market is a major obstacle to the success of their business (Department for Business Innovation and Skills), so what better way to set yourself apart from the competition with specific core values that are unique to you and your business. After all, you can’t get anymore unique than ‘you’. Your values, along with your story are things that cannot be replicated by the competition, not in an authentic way anyway.

#5 Growth

In a Harvard Business Review article, the founder of Zappos, Tony Hsieh is asked if he could go back and start his company again, what would he do differently. His response?….“If I could go back and do Zappos all over again I would actually come up with our values from day one.” (I’ll share a link to the article in the comments)

Creating values as a micro or small business is much easier than trying to develop them when you start to grow. By having your core values in place from day one, it will also help your recruitment or outsourcing processes. Hiring people who are aligned to your core values will result in a more motivated and committed team. 

If you’re already outsourcing and utilising freelancers in your business, especially those who develop content for you, make sure they know what you stand for. Giving them an insight into your core values is essential for consistency in your communications.

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