How to Put Your Business Plan’s Principles into Practice

Use your mission, vision, and values in your business plan to guide the way that your business functions as a socially responsible contributor to the world around you — to your employees, your clients, your industry, and your community. And use your business plan to emphasize your company values and what they mean to all who deal with your business.

Companies that remain devoted to nothing more than the bottom line will always exist. But, increasingly, companies are realizing that strong values contribute to strong businesses, and they craft their business plans accordingly. Many are creating detailed ethics guidelines that articulate exactly what they stand for and how they intend to act.

Companies often post those guidelines on their websites so that both customers and employees can see them. They help guide employees in their everyday working lives. These guidelines also reassure customers that the company intends to act in an ethical way.

Williams-Sonoma, which sells kitchen and home products, proudly posts its corporate values on its website. “We are here to please our customers — without them, nothing else matters,” the document declares. Almost any company would say the same thing. But with the growth of online reviews, social media, and increased emphasis on business transparency, Williams-Sonoma and companies like it are committing themselves more publically to social and environmental responsibility.

Indeed, Williams-Sonoma asks all the companies that make the products it sells to sign a code of conduct that includes offering safe working conditions and fair wages. That code reflects its deepest values. More than that, it puts those values into action.

Consider incorporating similar principles about trust, loyalty, ethics, and contribution in your values statement and then create a plan for translating the words into actions whenever the need arises, following these steps:

  1. Whenever you encounter a difficult business or ethical situation, assess your options in light of your values.

  2. Analyze the consequences of the various actions you can take, considering who will benefit and who will be hurt or damaged by each response.

  3. Weigh whether your response is honest and fair.

  4. When you’re confident that your response to a difficult decision is consistent with your values and that your actions will be fair and honest, proceed with confidence.

By knowing and remaining true to your values, when and if you encounter an ethical dilemma, you’ll have a strong foundation upon which to build.

And now you know how you put your values to work.

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