core values and ethics. Successful business and career background.

What principles form the foundation of your start-up?

“A wise man built his house upon a rock and though the rain, the torrents, the floodwaters and the winds beat against the house it will not collapse as it is built on a bedrock.”

The above text is taken from a biblical passage that illustrates the importance of building a secure foundation. When the foundation is sure then no amount of external pressure can cause the building to collapse.

From this text, start-ups can derive foundational wisdom that will enable the business to last long. The wisdom is in investing time and resources in building the right foundations for your business. Over the years I have seen many businesses fail as a result of improper planning at the foundational stage.

Here is a peek at how many startups get into business. The first step is often to come up with a business idea and business name. They will then rush through the registration process. Once they have the business certificate then they will open a bank account and bingo, and begin trading. A few months later the same business may face several challenges including disputes with partners, misappropriation of funds among others that may threaten the very existence of the business.

Some of the important foundational activities include strategic planning, organisational policies, organisational charts, business plans, and so on. They are time-consuming and very involving to work on but in the end, they prove very valuable to a business.

A start-up can choose to retain an expert to take them through the foundational stages or may opt for a do-it-yourself model. There are many free online tools and workbooks to help entrepreneurs through the process.

Today I will highlight the importance of values to a start-up. How many start-ups have formal and structured values? Writing down the business values is a very important foundational step that can help a business attain longevity.

Values are beliefs and principles that drive a business. There are so many types of values that a business can choose from and therefore it is not difficult to craft these.

Business values are sometimes shaped by the personal values of the founders. Writing these values down is so crucial in creating an organisational culture in the future. Employees, clients, and other stakeholders would have a clear perspective of what your business stands for. Values are great for motivating staff and improving teamwork. Written values help you recruit the right staff who also share the same values.

Values are crucial to attracting clients and, therefore, play a role in marketing and sales. Values especially customer-oriented values help shape the customer experience. An example is a leading Kenyan coffeehouse Java whose cookies read “made with love” and are shaped in a love heart shape. Having “love” as a value can attract customers if the organisation creates a culture of love.

Studies have shown that there is a direct link between values and financial performance. Other than creating a good work environment and attracting clients some investors prefer to invest in a value-driven business, especially where there is a shared value.

For your values to be effective then you need to write them down and also include them in all your organisational policies. This will give them the necessary legal authority they require. You can go a step ahead and include observance of your values as a mandatory requirement in the employment contract. Values such as integrity and confidentiality can be formalised in an employment contract. Go on, write down your values

The writer is the founder of C Mputhia Advocates

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