Business Core Values: More than Just Business

Business core values are deeply ingrained principles that become cornerstones for your organization. They are often an integral part of building a successful business culture. When core values are well-defined, they will filter throughout your business, set you apart from your competition, and become a guiding light for employees. This shows that company core values can have a major impact on the health of an organization – either positively or negatively. If they are genuinely held by those in leadership and incorporated in creative ways, business core values are incredibly effective and produce a greater sense of unity and innovation throughout the organization. The last thing you want is to have the same 3 hackneyed core values that 18 of your competitors do. “Integrity,” “quality,” and “innovation” are fine values if they are unique to your firm’s modus operandi.

Business Core Values

Importance Of Core Values In Business

Let’s discuss the importance of core values in business. This term may raise a red flag of skepticism if you’ve seen the process done poorly. Almost all of us have been on the receiving end of employers trying to “inspire” with a canned, cliché set of values. When the core values don’t accurately reflect the day-to-day experience of employees, it can create a toxic company culture. On the other hand, when they are well-defined, honest reflections of the business values and ethics of the company, your business or organization will flourish as a result.

Your company core values should be something you are truly willing to live by if they are going to take root in your organization. In order to do this, they will need to be integrated into every process – from hiring, to performance management, to bonus and compensation packages. In order to be the transformative force they are capable of being, core values must be fully adhered to. This will allow them to guide your organization to success the way they have done for so many others.

Developing Company Core Values

Once you realize the importance of defining your company core values, the next question becomes how to develop them. If business values are going to be more than an overlooked plaque on the wall, the process will take time and effort. Every organization is different – there is no right or wrong way to develop company core values. However, there are some methods used by many companies that can help you develop your own process.

Steps To Develop Business Core Values:

  1. Involve the Team

There are differing opinions about whether the process should be a top-down or bottom up process. Since the purpose of choosing business values is establishing a set of strategically chosen fundamental beliefs within your organization, we recommend involving team members from all levels in the process.

  1. Own the Process

It can be easy as a leader to hand the process off to a team of employees to get a consensus, but this can result in core values that don’t truly reflect the belief system of management. As a leader, take responsibility for the process and stay involved.

  1. Define What Makes You Unique

Take some time to identify and define what makes your company unique in the way you operate and what you believe. Pro tip: focus on what sets you apart from competitors.

  1. Facilitate Collaboration

Inviting collaboration and different perspectives in the definition phase will give you a good sampling of what is important throughout your organization. Depending on the size of your organization, consider forming teams to develop a list of the core values they see as critical to the success of the company.

  1. Filter the List

Once you have a list, invite feedback. Look for similarities that will help eliminate core values that may be duplicated. As you look at the list, determine how many core values you want – a smaller number is usually better. Mine out which of the listed values is the most critical to who you are as a company.

  1. Allow the Process

This will take some time. Rushing the process is typically what generates the canned core values we mentioned earlier. Prioritize and discuss developing your company core values at weekly team meetings. Allow them to grow and develop as you become clear on what is truly important.

  1. Evolve

Once your core values are well-defined and everyone knows them by heart, allow yourselves to evolve as a company as you learn more about your company identity. Revisit and refine as necessary.

Business Core Values Examples

Now that we have a solid foundation of how to develop them, let’s look at some business core value examples that have stood the test of time and are truthfully reflected in the culture of the company.

Whole Foods Core Values:

Whole Foods – Our purpose is to nourish people and the planet.

    • We Sell the Highest Quality Natural and Organic Foods
    • We Create Profits and Prosperity
    • We Satisfy and Delight Our Customers
    • We Promote Team Member Growth and Happiness
    • We Care About Our Communities and The Environment
    • We Practice Win-Win Partnerships with Our Suppliers

Coca-Cola Core Values:

Coca-Cola – Our business values serve as a compass for our actions and describe how we behave in the world.

    • Leadership: The courage to shape a better future
    • Collaboration: Leverage collective genius
    • Integrity: Be real
    • Accountability: If it is to be, it’s up to me
    • Passion: Committed in heart and mind
    • Diversity: As inclusive as our brands
    • Quality: What we do, we do well

IKEA Core Values:

IKEA – We’re constantly trying to find better ways to get things done and to bring out the best in ourselves and others.

    • Togetherness
    • Caring for People and the Planet
    • Cost-consciousness
    • Simplicity
    • Renew and Improve
    • Different with a Meaning
    • Give and Take Responsibility
    • Lead by Example

Netflix Core Values:

Netflix – Our core philosophy is people over process. More specifically, we have great people working together as a dream team. With this approach, we are a more flexible, fun, stimulating, creative, collaborative, and successful organization.

    • Judgment
    • Communication
    • Curiosity
    • Passion
    • Courage
    • Selflessness
    • Inclusion
    • Innovation
    • Integrity
    • Impact

An interesting note – Netflix’ core values are written to describe their ultimate employee and how they function.


Developing and implementing business core values requires tenacity and perseverance. When they are fully implemented, core values can force some painful choices, but they will pay off in exponential ways. If you are having trouble developing meaningful core values for your organization, send us a note. We’d love to help.


Additional Reading:


Filed Under: Consulting skills, Corporate Training