The ever-changing business climate these days can test your business principles. Riding the wave of any crisis can challenge their validity, truth, and sustainability. As a business leader, you established these beliefs to be the foundation your company was built on. And how you do business. They are a testament to your decisions, policies, and operations. These values guide you as a business leader to move your organization in the right, ethical direction. So, when the going gets tough, how well do you stick to these key business principles? Do they really stand the test of time?
Principles pushed against the wall
As companies begin to reopen around the country, things may not go back to business as usual. There will be many challenges to recover losses, regroup and reconfigure, and bring back customers. Leaders and CEOs are making hard decisions to reopen while at the same time rehiring/laying off employees. They’re faced with new regulations that, in some cases, changes the face of their business and may reduce productivity. Government guidelines may cut the number of customers allowed in the building. And at the same time, more space may be required for employees returning to work.
The costs associated with these changes can quickly add up, potentially making matters worse. For many, these tough times will feel like being pushed against the wall. You may even feel powerless or at the very least, have less control over your operations. And that’s assuming that you have not been forced to close your doors altogether. According to a recent SHRM study, “42% of small business owners say they’ve had to close their business as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.” Six out of 10 reported a “decrease in revenue” since the onset of the pandemic.
The power of principles
But it’s times like these that confirm the reasons you established these principles in the first place. They represent a well-defined set of values that provide a guiding light as you navigate uncertain times. And those unpredictable times can come from internal or external forces.
At the same time, your business principles take you through your normal, daily operations. They may include commitments to customers and employees, operational excellence, and transparency. Principles can also point to integrity, fairness, and even the environment. According to American National University there are eight fundamental business principles. Having a quality product, knowing your competition, and respecting customers seem obvious but are key to your business success.
And there may be similarities and differences depending on the industry and type of business. But what they do have in common is a thoughtful list of standards that reveal your company’s priorities. They are very telling as to what your customers, employees, and other shareholders can expect.
Are your business principles sound?
How can you be sure your established values are sound and resonate with your audience? Some of the best indicators include the ability to withstand change, diversity, and time. Of course, business principles have been around as long as companies. Industries have developed principles to keep their practices above board and shining in a good light. For example, in 1931, the Better Business Bureau prepared and published in the New York Times “what might be called a code of advertising.” The code was referred to as essential principles “and already endorsed by a large number of advertisers.”
Having tried and true principles that withstand time will strengthen your company’s credibility.
- Ask yourself if your values are true.
- Are they achievable?
- How do they affect the community?
- Do they include commitments to customers and employees?
- Do they reflect all of which your company stands for?
Time to refresh your business principles?
If your business values are timeless and sound, there may be no reason to update or amend your list of principles. But you may now find yourself looking at all areas of your business as we turn the corner of this virus. If you are changing how you do business, upgrading your technology, or restructuring your operations, you may want to take a second look.
- Do they still meet your “sound” test?
- Are they inclusive of who you serve and how you serve them?
- Have they grown with your company’s growth?
- Have you deviated from them or found a reason to make modifications?
- Will protection of employees and customer safety become the #1 priority?
Worth the effort
The effort you invest in creating and living up to your principles will pay off. The benefits are numerous including customer loyalty from those who share your values. You will inspire your employees and differentiate your business as an industry leader.