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Business tip – values form the character of a business

Content provided by Sanlam. See Financial Solutions for Business Owners, for tailormade financial advice.


Values are an intrinsic part of your business’s mission, vision, goals and values.

In the www.thefreedictionary.com character is defined as the combination of qualities or features that distinguishes one person, group or thing from another. It is also said that a person acts ‘in character’ when he/she does things that you would expect from him/her.

Are you able to answer the following questions?

  • How do clients distinguish my business from the competition?
  • Do my staff and I act ‘in character’; in other words can our clients trust our word and do we not contradict ourselves?

I am of the opinion that the character of a business is formed by the values adhered to by the business.  www.businessdictionary.com defines values as important and lasting beliefs or ideals shared by the members of a culture (in this case the people in a business) about what is good or bad and desirable or undesirable. Values have a major influence on a person's behaviour and attitude and serve as broad guidelines in all situations.

In the context of business the mutually agreed upon values guide the behaviour of the staff, so that clients are able to judge the character of the business.

Let us look at a few examples of the values that may apply to a business.

  • Fairness
  • Innovation
  • Community involvement
  • Trustworthiness
  • Reliable
  • Loyal
  • Committee
  • Receptive
  • Consistent
  • HonestEffective
  • Creative
  • Jovial
  • Adventurous
  • Motivated
  • Positive
  • Optimistic
  • Inspiring
  • Passionate
  • Deferential
  • Educated/competent
  • Respected

Which of the above values find favour with you? Now compile your own list and select three to five values that will distinguish your business from the competition. Then share this information with your staff and agree on how this will be given shape within your business. Values are not worth the paper they are written on, unless they get ‘feet and legs’ and are lived out by everyone in the business, from the owners to the most junior staff members.

Mahatma Gandhi once said the following:

“Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny.”

Article written by Jannie Rossouw, Head: Sanlam Business Market

Copyright © Sanlam, 2016

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