Now that you’ve started to think about your passions, the next step towards understanding your vision is to look at your values.
Dictionary.com suggests that values are, “A person's principles or standards of behaviour; one's judgment of what is important in life.”
This definition is spot on. Understanding your values means understanding what you respect and deem to be important.
Your values, therefore, are simple things in life that make you feel proud. This is a powerful insight for an entrepreneur to have about themselves. It provides a window into understanding what activities and environments will make you respect yourself, and understand ahead of time what will leave you feeling uninspired, or worse, ashamed.
In a previous section we mentioned entrepreneurs-at-heart falling short due to chasing money. If your actions or the actions of those around you are unaligned with your values, you will feel conflicted, frustrated and unfulfilled. If succeeding in a startup wasn’t difficult enough already, trying to do it while feeling conflicted, frustrated and unfulfilled will leave you with an even smaller chance of success. If you continue with unaligned activities in the pursuit of money, you will fall short, and your startup will suffer the consequences.
Doing something you enjoy in life (your passions) lights the fire inside of you that makes you come alive, and doing something you respect (your values) is what keeps the flame burning when things get challenging. When you identify work and a way of life that you think important for yourself and the world, you begin tapping into an enormous reserve of energy and internal drive. When things get tough, which they will, aligning your situation with your values will carry you through.
Having a good understanding of your values helps you focus your time and energy towards achieving something that is truly important to you. As a result it’ll be easier for you to stay driven and committed to achieve what you set out for, and you’ll attract like-minded people around you. As you’ll find out later in this course, these are two crucial elements to being a successful entrepreneur.
Another reason understanding values is so important for entrepreneurs and startups is that it results in creating value-led companies. In the startup world there’s a company who has become synonymous with the phrase “value-led company”: Zappos.com.
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh created a company committed to sticking with their core values, a move that proved its worth when Amazon acquired Zappos in 2009 for around $1 billion. Learn how Hsieh has used the core values of Zappos to build a record-breaking startup:
It’s still early for us to be talking about company culture but it’s the perfect time to realise that your personal values will influence the values of your startup. It’s time to get to work and understand your own values in the next activity.
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