That you stand out in the marketplace is an important factor in your company’s success, but an even more important factor is how you distinguish your business. Consistency is key, and the easiest way to consistently achieve consistency is to be clear about what you stand for. Do you know what you stand for as a business? Start with the question “Who are we?” Your company is made up of layers. You must examine each of these layers until you reach the core of your values, beliefs, goals and standards as a company. This is where you find who you are and what you want to represent as a company.
Whether your business is established or new, you have to know what you stand for internally before you can communicate that to your market or your customers. Company culture is a compilation of the company vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits. Every company, even a sole proprietorship, has a culture. Employees don’t bring culture to a company; the culture exists when they arrive. Since employees can impact the culture of a company for good or not so good, many companies try to make “fit” part of the overall hiring process. Equally important, once on board, is to educate employees on what the culture of the company is and how it is to be communicated. Every person in the company should be capable of saying what the company stands for.
To understand the importance of knowing what you stand for, try this. Step into an elevator and ask someone what he or she does. They will say something like, “I am in business development for the XYZ Widget Company. We make widgets for businesses all over the state.” Now ask them what they stand for. You will probably get silence and a shrug.
Now picture yourself in this situation. You’re in an elevator at a convention among your peers and someone asks, “What does your company do?” What do you say? You’ve got about 15 seconds to establish yourself and make an impression. The person listening won’t even be tuned in to the first 10 seconds because they are judging your appearance and their gut feeling about you. So, you’ve really got only five seconds. Can you say what you stand for in five seconds and make it memorable?
Remember: what you stand for shapes the impact you have on the world.