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17 examples of core values in small businesses



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What’s your guiding star?

As a small business owner, I disregarded the importance of core values until we made our first hiring mistake.

At the time, we were a close-knit team of four employees. We hired a fifth employee that the team was split on as a candidate. I made the decision to proceed with hiring the candidate anyway because of a gut instinct. Three months later, I had to fire the candidate and another employee to help save and maintain our company culture.

After that experience, we formed core values to avoid future mistakes and base judgments on foundational elements. Five years later, the company experienced a successful acquisition. Establishing core values was one of the reasons why I think we were able to build a company worth acquiring.

Core values help guide the decisions, actions, and behaviors of a company. As workplaces have gone remote, hybrid, or remained in-person, a company’s core values have served as a North Star for employees and executives faced with tough decisions.

But what are some examples of small business core values, and how do they impact a company?

We asked CEOs, founders and company leaders for their best recommendations. From “sisterhood” to “dedication to customers,” these strategies may help you develop or add to your core values.

17 examples of core values in small businesses

  1. Be the human your dog thinks you are.
  2. Strength in numbers.
  3. Go the extra mile.
  4. We believe in family.
  5. Dedication to customers.
  6. Balance.
  7. Confidentiality.
  8. Team members always come first.
  9. Enjoy the ride.
  10. Sisterhood.
  11. We embrace change.
  12. Transparency.
  13. Grit is powered by love.
  14. Radical candor — care personally, challenge directly.
  15. The company wins when the team members win.
  16. Sense of adventure.
  17. Be a radical giver.

Group of CEO images

1. Be the human your dog thinks you are

“Be kind, show care for your colleagues. And even if you’re an expert, give others context, reinforce the positive and help them understand. This ideology helps us create an inclusive environment where our employees are comfortable asking questions, and productivity is heightened as a result.”

— Joe Spector, Dutch

2. Strength in numbers

“Employees wear a lot of hats when working at an early-stage startup. There are always lofty goals and never enough resources to achieve those goals alone or working independently. Strength in numbers — which we define as utilizing all available resources — inspires us to rely on those around us to accomplish our work, together. One example of this is operating in an Agile environment and using Kanban workflows, where a team member can easily jump in on a bottlenecked area to make sure things keep moving.

“There’s a good quote behind the value as well: ‘If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.’ By working together and relying on the creativity of our community, a strength-in-numbers approach enables us to go much further as a company.”

— Adrian James, Terkel

3. Go the extra mile

“To highlight when a team member goes the extra mile for a client or another team member, we share kudos messages in our monthly internal eNewsletter — often in the form of verbatim praise from the client or a direct quote from a colleague. This newsletter goes out to our team across Canada and at our virtual quarterly meetings.

“Since we are mostly remote, it’s important to communicate those successes to the whole team and ensure people know their work is valued. We want to recognize when someone goes out of their way to solve a problem, puts in extra effort, and sees an initiative through beyond the typical amount of work required.”

— Colton De Vos, Resolute Technology Solutions

4. We believe in family

“Since 1977, our business has been owned and operated by commercial finance brokers, who also happen to be family. While there are many challenges to having a family business, there are also many benefits. As a family of commercial finance brokers, we are real people providing real solutions for our customers for generations to come.

“Family-owned businesses have always been the backbone of our economy, and we are proud to be a part of that.”

— Carey Wilbur, Charter Capital

5. Dedication to customers

“We always act in the best interest of the client. We are a customer-centric company and we go above and beyond to make sure that our client strategies and recommendations provide the most value based on their needs. Some companies focus more on sales numbers, but our dedication to our clients has been the hallmark of our success. We take the time necessary to build a rapport and understand our clients’ needs.”

— Chris Abrams, Marcan Insurance

6. Balance

“It’s so hard to choose one core value above the rest, however, our core value of balance is integral to the framework, functioning and philosophy of Miss Details. It permeates every aspect of the work we do, from balancing data and design to create effective sensory branding, to mapping out a marketing strategy fueled by both logic and emotion. Personally and professionally my goal is to have and promote a healthy work-life balance for my team — which is a little more difficult as an entrepreneur!”

— Tanya Gagnon, Miss Details

7. Confidentiality

“When talking to clients about their finances, they want to ensure that they are in a safe space where I will not share their personal information with others. At the onset of the coaching relationship, I guarantee that clients know that their conversations with me are treated confidentially. This lets them know that they can speak freely without holding back on their struggles with their finances or their relationships. Ultimately, clients can talk comfortably and start making strides in accomplishing their future goals.”

— Annette Harris, Harris Financial Coaching

8. Team members always come first

“I run a digital online company using a team of virtual assistants. Keeping employees happy across multiple geographies can always be a challenge. But one core value I use is a quote from Richard Branson which goes: ‘Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of the clients.’ This helps keep employees motivated, and improves retention and overall productivity — thus improving the business’s sales and revenue.”

— Mogale Modisane,

9. Enjoy the ride

“I work at an IT solutions company called Electric, and although that product might not sound fun, working here certainly is. One of our core values is to enjoy the ride and I think the company does a great job of promoting it. We’ve done Drag Queen Bingo over Zoom, taken happy hour boat cruises on the Hudson and members of our team even met Dan Levy when he was a keynote speaker at our big annual event. There’s a culture of fun and excitement here and I think it energizes us to perform better and make work more enjoyable.”

— Ryan McSweeney, Electric IT Support

10. Sisterhood

“In a primarily female industry, sisterhood is a company value that keeps our culture supportive and empowering. This value helps share our passions and connects us within the company and to our clients. These deep connections are powerful in maintaining a positive employee experience and an exceptional customer experience.

— Vanessa Molica, The Lash & Sugar Company

11. We embrace change

“If the last decade has shown us anything, it’s that change is occurring faster than ever. To sustain your small business in the long run, it’s crucial that you embrace this change and learn to adapt to it. While many small companies hate change and want ‘business as usual,’ avoiding updates to their processes at every turn or having to pivot, our company embraces it. Learning to love change and embrace it makes us more nimble and flexible. This allows us to more quickly adapt to changing customer preferences and modes of doing business. To me, this core value has been especially pertinent and important during the last two years of the pandemic.”

— John Ross, Test Prep Insight

12. Transparency

“In this remote work environment, it can be easy to hide mistakes or feel the need to cover up why you weren’t at your computer. Fostering transparency as a core value ensures no one tries to cover up their mistakes or feels the need to fib. Being a 100% remote organization, this is something we make sure our team feels confident in from day one.”

— Alison French, Emerged

13. Grit is powered by love

“Being an entrepreneur takes grit. Grit is powered by love. You must love what you are doing or you’ll never ever have the strength to get through the challenges.

“This is our core value that drives everything we do. We work hard to develop recipes, engage with readers and maintain brand awareness, but it would be impossible without genuine love for cooking, interacting online, and having a vision for our brand. It is a grind, but because we love what we do and love our readers, it makes it so much easier to tackle inevitable challenges.”

— Sylvia Fountaine, Feasting at Home

14. Radical candor — care personally, challenge directly

“Radical candor is the idea that you should share opinions directly and openly with your team. With smaller, growing businesses there is not a lot of room to hide your thoughts or feelings, both in the sense of physical space but also in the sense of being able to scale and build effectively. Radical candor forces us to lay all of our cards on the table — even if it may be uncomfortable. It allows us to uncover things that need to improve, small issues that if left untreated will become larger problems at scale. By having your entire team practice radical candor you work together to build a better business and are constructively forced into looking at things from multiple perspectives and be more successful because of it.

— Sam Gallen, collystring

15. The company wins when the team members win

“At Mashman Ventures, one of our core values is to ‘Always chase after your vision.’ Everyone on the team is constantly encouraged to chase after their own goals in business and in life. When the team meets, we ask each other about recent wins at work and beyond to celebrate them. We ask each other if there’s anything we can do to help, offering our expertise to each other. We also emphasize personal growth for everyone on the team.

“Our founder, Isaac Mashman, likes to say that ‘At the center of all achievement is personal growth.’ When everyone on the team is eating well, the company must be doing well. In creating this culture, all of us on the team grow professionally and personally, have a great support system, and the company benefits as a result.”

— Eric Chow, Mashman Ventures

16. Sense of adventure

“My favorite core value is our sense of adventure. It’s what we built our company on, and we still live by it. Successful entrepreneurs don’t wake up one morning and decide to become one. They’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset. Don’t be shy if you have a business idea or project; try it. ‘You’ll always miss the shots you didn’t take.’ Without my sense of adventure, I would not be where I am today.”

— Ouriel Lemmel, WinIt

17. Be a radical giver

“On January 1, 2018, I made ‘giving’ my word of the year for 2018, and that decision has had ramifications in my business and ripple effects across the people I serve. My entire team approaches business from the perspective of serving more and giving more value to everyone in our audience. Although it’s not the reason we give, we’ve found that the more we give, the more we get. Giving is no longer my word of the year; it is the essence of my business.”

— Bobby Klinck,

Creating core values for your small business

As you can see from these examples, creating core values for your company can be a fun and incredibly impactful way to shape an organization and guide employees.

A perfect core value aligns with the beliefs of a founder and the employees who work within a company. If everyone can buy-in, understand, and get inspired by a core value, then you know you’ve found a winner.

Use these core value examples to get inspired and create the guiding principles for your small business.

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Managing people

Four Effective Tips to Improve Labor Management in Companies



Businesses worldwide are always on the hunt for ways to improve their processes and add more efficiency to day-to-day functions. Of course, labor management is one of the major aspects of every company that demands continuous attention and improvement.

Every business understands that effective labor management is essential when it comes to increasing the productivity, safety, and efficiency of every project. The managers bear all burden to ensure that the labor is working effectively to meet the needs of supply and demand chains.

Here are some effective ways to improve labor management in your company for the best of your business.

1. Use Standardized KPIs

It can be hard to hold someone accountable for their performance when there is no evidence to back up the claims. In such circumstances, the labor deserving of praise may be left out, and those who need improvement may continue to waste company time and resources. Of course, such practices can cost you a lot of time and money in the long run.

Hence, smart companies worldwide are using Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) as a tool for worker motivation and accountability. These indicators help them better understand why certain standardized goals exist and their role in making the company succeed.

2. Incorporate a Software

Managers have a lot on their shoulders in addition to managing the workforce. A few people cannot keep an eye on everyone throughout the day. They need Kaizen Software to find the best solution for labor management. This way, the managers can find time to pay attention to many more important matters.

Efficient management software is being used worldwide due to its countless benefits. They offer security, better communication, and enhanced tracking to make your business more efficient. Hence, your business will have a better opportunity to grow and bloom.

3. Ensure Safety at the Workplace

Every workspace has its own challenges. However, everyone can agree that industrial workers have more challenges when it comes to safety. After all, they are surrounded by heavy machinery and face increased chances of accidents, injuries, and even fatalities. Hence, it must be a top priority to make your workplace safer.

You can start by looking into the hazards in your workspace and minimizing them one by one. In addition, it is also important to ensure that all your workers have access to safety gear at all times. Caution can save more lives than building an elaborate regime to care for injured workers.

Managing industrial workforce

4. Keep Workers Posted

Whether a construction site or a chemical industry, there can be new hazards and precautions for workers every day. A little negligence in the workplace can lead to a regrettable accident. Hence, it is always a good idea to keep your workers informed about current events.

Knowledge about company procedures and safety rules can reduce insecurity among workers and increase their efficiency. It is best to let your workers know that all their questions will be answered. This way, they can feel more comfortable seeking your guidance instead of finding out by trial and error.

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Managing people

10 Key Strategies for Managing and Engaging your Employees



Effective employee management and engagement are crucial for small businesses to foster a positive work environment, maximize productivity, and retain top talent. Small business owners need to prioritize their employees’ well-being, provide growth opportunities, and create a culture that promotes engagement and collaboration.

Here, we will explore ten strategies and practices for employee management and engagement in small businesses.

1. Clear Communication and Expectations

Clear communication is vital to set expectations and ensure alignment between the business and its employees. Regularly communicate goals, priorities, and performance expectations to your team. Provide feedback and recognition for their achievements and address any concerns or issues promptly. Encourage an open-door policy and create channels for open dialogue and feedback.

2. Training and Development Opportunities

Investing in training and development opportunities for your employees demonstrates your commitment to their growth and success. Identify areas where employees can benefit from additional skills or knowledge and provide relevant training programs. This can include workshops, conferences, online courses, or mentoring programs. Encourage a culture of continuous learning and support employees’ professional development.

3. Employee Recognition and Rewards

Recognizing and rewarding employee contributions is essential for fostering motivation and engagement. Implement a recognition program that acknowledges outstanding performance, teamwork, and achievements. This can include verbal praise, written appreciation, or tangible rewards such as bonuses or incentives. Regularly celebrate milestones and accomplishments to show appreciation for your employees’ hard work.

4. Work-Life Balance and Well-being

Promote a healthy work-life balance and prioritize employee well-being. Offer flexible work arrangements when possible, such as remote work options or flexible scheduling. Encourage breaks and time off to prevent burnout. Provide resources and support for physical and mental well-being, such as access to wellness programs or employee assistance programs. Show genuine care and support for your employees’ overall well-being.

5. Foster a Collaborative and Inclusive Culture

Create a collaborative and inclusive culture that values diversity and fosters teamwork. Encourage open communication, idea sharing, and collaboration among employees. Foster an environment where everyone feels valued, respected, and included. Embrace diverse perspectives and leverage the unique strengths of your team members to drive innovation and growth.

Getting feedback on employees

6. Performance Management and Feedback

Establish a robust performance management system to set clear goals, provide regular feedback, and evaluate employee performance. Implement regular performance reviews to discuss progress, identify development areas, and set new objectives. Provide constructive feedback that focuses on both strengths and areas for improvement to support employee growth.

7. Empowerment and Autonomy

Encourage autonomy and empower employees to take ownership of their work. Delegate responsibilities and provide them with the necessary resources and authority to make decisions. Encourage innovation and creativity by allowing employees to explore new ideas and approaches. Trust their expertise and provide guidance when needed.

8. Career Growth and Advancement

Support your employees’ career growth and advancement within the organization. Provide opportunities for skill development, such as stretch assignments or cross-functional projects. Offer mentorship programs or coaching to help employees navigate their career paths. Create a clear path for advancement and communicate the potential growth opportunities available to them.

9. Team Building and Social Activities

Organize team-building activities and social events to foster strong relationships among your employees. This can include off-site retreats, team lunches, or recreational activities. Encourage team bonding and camaraderie to enhance collaboration and create a positive work culture.

10. Continuous Improvement

Establish a culture of continuous feedback and improvement. Encourage regular check-ins between managers and employees to discuss progress, challenges, and goals. Solicit feedback from employees on processes, policies, and workplace initiatives. Actively listen to their suggestions and make necessary improvements to enhance the work environment.

Employee management meeting


Effective employee management and engagement are critical for small businesses to thrive. By prioritizing clear communication, providing training and development opportunities, recognizing and rewarding employee contributions, promoting work-life balance and well-being, fostering a collaborative and inclusive culture, and implementing additional strategies such as performance management, empowerment, career growth, team building, and continuous feedback, small business owners can create a positive and engaging work environment.

Investing in your employees’ success and happiness not only benefits them individually but also contributes to the overall success and growth of your small business.

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Growing a Business

Secure your startup’s future by watching the big corporations



Welcome to Startups Weekly. Sign up here to get it in your inbox every Saturday morning. Starting next week, it moves to Fridays at 12 pm PT.

As a startup founder, wouldn’t it be awesome if you could predict the future a little bit more than you currently do? It turns out you can: By paying close attention to what the behemoths in your space are doing. Last year’s AWS Re:Invent set the direction for a lot of what Amazon is doing this year — including where it invests. Re:Invent 2023 is coming up soon.

Google I/O revealed that Google is investing heavily in computational photography, large language models and all things AI. As a startup, you can use these data points and draw a line into the future: Can you align yourself with the big-picture trends? Are you missing anything?

This week, at Apple’s worldwide developer conference WWDC, the company took the wraps off its AR/VR headset. Priced at $3,500 it won’t be a commercial success, but as a startup, you’d be very silly not to pay attention: It is a complete game-changer for startups.

Startup valuations are taking a pounding

After a frothy few years of don’t-call-it-a-bubble, it seems like the inevitable market correction is here. We’ve seen wave after wave of tech layoffs, and it seems like investors are starting to take a more realistic view of their investments, starting to mark them down.

Marking down an investment doesn’t necessarily mean drama; it refers to the common process of adjusting the value of an investment asset to reflect its current market value. In the case of VC, that often happens if the valuation turned out to be a bit on the optimistic side. Investors will typically mark down investments to avoid overstating their portfolio’s worth. In a nutshell, it’s best practice to acknowledge potential losses before they are realized. That’s what is happening now — and perhaps should have been happening for a while, as Rebecca argued late last year, when she noticed that a bunch of startups had quietly marked down their own valuations.

Jeremy Abelson and Jacob Sonnenberg, both at Irving Investors, argue that if you haven’t yet, you probably won’t grow into your 2023 investment valuation.

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Just in the past few weeks week, we had another handful of examples of this:

Life is a highway

The EV space is exploding (sometimes literally) at the moment, and there seems to be a huge amount of stuff in motion in the world of transportation.

Mercedes just got permission from the state of California to start selling a car that can self-drive without having to hold the wheel or look at the road. No doubt this’ll set Elon Musk’s little temperature gauge to “furious” as the company’s cars do attract a federal tax break but come up short on the self-driving front in its native California.

Price is often brought up as a major hurdle for EVs, but Volvo snuck out a small SUV that can cruise along for 275 miles and has a sub-$35,000 price tag. That still isn’t pocket change, but it’s a lot cheaper than a lot of the EVs on the road. Meanwhile, Fiat showed off a city vehicle it’s working on that made both Harri and myself squee with delight.

Safety is another theme across TechCrunch’s transportation coverage: Smarter cars should, in theory, mean safer roads. In practice, Waymo had to explain why one of its autonomous Jaguars ran down a dog in San Francisco last month, and Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently proposed a rule that means all new cars and trucks would need to have emergency systems that “would have to be capable of stopping and avoiding contact with a vehicle at speeds of up to 62 miles per hour.”

Remember what we said about legislation driving innovation and opportunities for startup? That proposed NHTSA rule falls into that category. Thought experiment: Could your company tap into that shift somehow?

Image Credits: Bryce Durbin/TechCrunch

Apple sets the pace

While Apple isn’t really a startup, it is the world’s first $3 trillion market cap company, so in a week where our servers have been melting from all of the exciting news that came out of the WWDC keynote, I wanted to highlight some of the things that are most interesting to startups and startup founders.

One thing worth paying attention to is the Apple Design Awards, which often foreshadow large trends in design and user experience best practices — along with what the Cupertino-based software giant celebrates at the moment.

Another trend worth paying attention to from Apple is its focus on health and safety: It released a check-In feature to ensure people get home safe, a nudity filter to shield you from unsolicited real-life aubergine emoji and mental health mood tracking. All of that is specific to this WWDC, but it continues a trend: Fall detection, car crash detection, ECG to detect heart events, and lots of other health and safety indicators. It has made it easier to find and disable AirTags that might be used for stalking, and a Safety Check and lockdown mode, which takes your iPhone off the radar to get away from an abusive partner (more from our security team here).

As a startup, all of the above should give you pause for thought: There are big trends at play here that Apple clearly wants to continue to invest in. Apple has gone heavy into the privacy of your data, and leaning into security, safety, mental and physical health and more. Build something truly innovative in these spaces, and you have the world’s most valuable company validating that these are problems worth solving.

Image Credits: Apple

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