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Document Your Philosophy

By: Edwin Bevens

 

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What does your business stand for? What are the basic principles that guide your decision-making? Those principles come together to form your philosophy, and your philosophy will ultimately determine your culture. Documenting your philosophy is key.

A great corporate culture can be an important contributor to a business’s success. To build a strong culture, you need to develop your philosophy, your principles. You need to begin by developing your philosophy, then communicating it, and finally upholding it.

Developing Your Philosophy

First up is developing your philosophy. What is it that sets your business apart—what makes you unique from others around you and in your industry? It can be easy to just imitate the culture you observe at other companies, or to pick a few out of a hat—but that’s not enough. You have to be different, and you have to be authentic. If your business’s expressed philosophy and culture don’t match with how you actually act, people will notice. Define a philosophy that is specific and genuine.

Your philosophy and principles are expressions of your values. You should involve your team members in the process of identifying and refining your values, principles and overarching philosophy. This is not the kind of task that you want to outsource to a third party or even just a small group within your organization. Involve everyone on your team, to see how they view the mission of your business—and to ensure that they buy in to what you ultimately settle on. When you build a philosophy from the ground up, it will be stronger in every part of the organization than if it is just imposed from the top down.

Communicating Your Philosophy

It’s not enough to just “have” a philosophy; you have to share it. You have to make sure that everyone involved in your business knows what your philosophy is, what your basic principles and values are. Turn that philosophy into a clear and concise mission statement that communicates the spirit you want your business to have in a way that is easy for everyone to remember.

Your philosophy should be clear to anyone connected to your business—because you should share it all the time. Make sure your mission statement is well-documented and included in your business communication, whether internally with fellow employees, with your partners, or with your customers. Discussing those principles with employees, partners, and customers will help differentiate your business, because they will better understand what you are about. Consistently communicating your philosophy both helps your team members know what you expect and creates a brand with consumers.

Live Your Philosophy

Any business can say they have a certain philosophy and culture; it’s another thing to actually prove it. Actions speak a lot louder than words, and your employees, partners, and customers will form opinions based on what you actually do more than what you claim. One of the benefits of communicating your mission to others is that they will then hold you accountable for living up to it.

No matter how long you stay in business, it’s important to remember your values, to stay true to your principles. The more people who know your values, the more people who will scrutinize what you do and make sure you stick to those principles. It’s also important, then, to have specific and strong statements of your philosophy, not weak, generic, and bland statements. A well-defined, well-communicated, and well-lived philosophy will guarantee a strong, consistent corporate culture that is known, understood, and accepted by everyone in your organization.

Published: December 20, 2012
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Edwin Bevens

Edwin Bevens is Editor of SmallBizClub.com, and specializes in communications for Tarkenton Companies in a variety of media. He develops, produces, and maintains content across a wide range of channels. With a background in journalism and publishing, Edwin focuses on helping small business owners find the right match of voice, audience, and medium for every message.Connect with him on

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