What is the Value Statement?

The best way to describe the value statement is by using the metaphor of a building’s foundation. The foundation of a home is usually made of some sturdy material like concrete blocks, no matter what home owners might do to the rest of their structure, paint, redecorate, remove a wall, add a room or an entire floor, rarely does one replace the foundation of the home. Values are like a home’s foundation. They are what exist in the company. The value statement is actually a series of words with definitions representing the organization’s core beliefs. They represent how the organization operates—how team members act with one another. Simply stated, again by the authors of Executive Directors Guide: the Guide for Successful Nonprofit Management, “Values are our beliefs in action—they guide our behavior as we take action to realize our vision and purpose (mission).”

The value statement answers the question:

  • What do we stand for?

Look at this example of a value statement from the Heinz Company: Passion: to be passionate about winning and about our brands, products and people, thereby delivering superior value to our shareholders. Risk Tolerance: to create a culture where entrepreneurship and prudent risk taking are encouraged and rewarded. Excellence: to be the best in quality and in everything we do. Motivation: to celebrate success, recognizing and rewarding the achievements of individuals and teams. Innovation: to innovate in everything, from products to processes. Empowerment: to empower our talented people to take the initiative and to do what’s right. Respect: to act with integrity and respect towards all. Typically organizations will highlight 4 to 8 values that they want to set as the standard of behavior. Each of the value words that Heinz uses above could have several definitions; they defined each the way they want their team members to understand them in their workplace. Remember, your organization determines what it values and the definition of each value.

Those definitions are what you want to highlight for your team and stakeholders. My book, “A Small Business Guide to Developing Mission, Vision, Vision, and Value Statements”

Phone Call Savvy for Everyone Who Uses a Phone!

An important part of building good business relationships is to give the impression of being a confident professional that clients and co-workers will be eager to have on their team. The way you speak over the telephone coveys approximately 85% of your  message. Build a reputation as a highly professional business. Present the best possible company image by keeping staff informed on proper phone coverage .  Below is a sample script you can follow:

Please advise Jake that I must speak with him before Thursday regarding his estimate on the costs associated with getting the Diamond Widget account set up.  What is his schedule like between now and Thursday?

(The assistant informs you that he is only available between 10:45 and 12:00 noon today and is then out of town until Thursday morning.)

Let him know that I’m available at 10:50 and I’ll write him in my calendar.  If I’m away from my office when he calls, please tell him to have me paged because it’s critical that we speak before he leaves on his business trip.

You then inform your office that you’re expecting an important call from Jake and that if he calls, you need to be paged.  You absolutely must talk with him. To convey the utmost in professionalism, follow the tips below:

  • Always say, “May I tell him/her who is calling?” rather than “Who’s calling?”
  • If you need to transfer someone, be sure to say, “I will connect you to Mary Jones, who will be able to help you”. Avoid saying “transfer” which makes people feel like they’re getting the runaround.
  • Always ask permission to put someone on hold.
  • Repeat names, phone numbers and pertinent information slowly and clearly.
  • Important! Watch your opening statements and tone of voice as you immediately set the tone and where the conversation will go.
  • Visualize the person to remind you that you are engaged in a two-way conversation and that this person is your #1 priority.
  • Check your body language and facial expression.  Energy, frustration or any other mindset will be transferred.  Emotions are often irrational while you are focused on a rational solution.
  • Inform the individual as to when you will have an answer or be getting back to them.  Always keep your word to call back at that time, even if you need to let them know that you’re still working on a solution and when you will call back again.

Why Small Business is Big Business

“Great” thought leaders are always willing to help out the next high growth business. But is that the right direction? According to Kelly Edmiston, a senior economist in Community Affairs at the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City, economic development experts are abandoning traditional approaches to economic development that rely on recruiting large enterprises with tax breaks, financial incentives, and other inducements. Instead, they are relying on building businesses from the ground up and supporting the growth of existing enterprises.

Here are some amazing facts about small businesses.

  • A small business is generally described as an independent company having fewer than 500 employees. (Small Business Administration). For the small business definition by industry used in government programs and contracting, see www.sba.gov/content/small‐business‐size‐standards. There are an estimated 27 million small businesses in the United States. (Census Bureau)
  • America’s small businesses are the engines of job creation. Small businesses employ about half of all private sector employees and create more than half of the nonfarm private gross domestic product. (Small Business Administration)
  • Generally, 60 to 80 percent of all new jobs come from small businesses. This number fluctuates year‐ by‐year when some small companies grow enough to become classified as large firms, and when new businesses are created. For example, from 1999 to 2000, small businesses accounted for 75 percent of all new jobs created. Small businesses have generated 65 percent of net new jobs over the past 17 years. (Small Business Administration)
  • The so‐called “gazelle” firms (ages three to five years) comprise less than one percent of all companies, yet generate roughly 10 percent of new jobs in any given year. The “average” firm in the top one percent of all companies contributes 88 jobs per year, and most end up with between 20 and 249 employees. (Kauffman Foundation)
  • Small businesses are innovators. They produce 16.5 times more patents per employee than large firms. (Small Business Administration)
  • From 1992 through 2010, small businesses outperformed large firms in net job creation 75% of the time, according to the latest the SBA Office of Advocacy’s Small Business Economy 2011 report (released March 21, 2012).
  • The U.S. ranks 13th in ease of starting a business in the world according to a World Bank report. In 2007, the U.S. ranked 3rd.
  • Total revenues from non-employers hit $989.6 billion in 2011 Census Bureau, up 4.1% from the year before