• Sara Mays

The #1 Item Missed in Business Plans

When companies are starting out, there is a lot of discussion about financing, finding a location, inventory management, and marketing strategies. But, an often-overlooked component of a business plan is developing the company’s values.

Small business owners frequently believe that because they are so deeply involved in the day to day business that documenting and discussing values is not necessary. They correctly believe that the values of their company should reflect their personal values. I completely agree with this sentiment. However, based on employee turnover and feedback from places like Glassdoor, and practical experience, values are often not clearly identified in small or large businesses. Frequently when they are stated, they are words on a website or a poster and aren't truly embedded in the daily actions of the employees.

Values are a critical component to building a company regardless of its projected revenue or number of employees. Values provide clarity for hiring, training, and interactions between your employees and those you serve regardless of whether you them customers, clients or patients. Values ensure that your team always has a compass to make the right decision for your business.

Some of the largest companies in the world do this exceptionally well. Southwest Airlines was innovative in this area with their Chief People Officer, Ann Rhodes. Her book Built on Values demonstrates how values are determined through collaboration and lived through behaviors.


How do you know if a company has values and lives them? The consistency of their responses will clearly indicate if values are words on a piece of paper, or if they are truly a compass the employees live by.

I’ve dealt with several business owners that I’ve come to know on a personal level. I know they are truly good people, but their personal values aren’t translated to their employees. If you ask those employees about the values of the company, or even the owner, they describe experiences and actions that are the antithesis of the person that I know.

How does this happen? The owner has not identified their own values, nor have they collaborated with their staff to determine values. Values are to be developed, communicated, and lived in all phases of the business. These areas include; hiring, training, recognition, and reviews to name a few.

If you want to build a great company, then start determining your company values. Whether your company is 3 or 30 years old, it’s never too early or late to determine your values. Providing your employees with a compass to make decisions will make them and you more successful.

We're happy to help you start your values journey. Call us 866-550-8724.

Sara Mays

Co-Founder & Principal Consultant