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“People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”

– Simon Sinek

Strong core values provide a filter through which you can run your business, develop how you market yourself and support your long-term vision.

Why should large corporations be the only enterprises with a vision for their future?

Doesn’t it stand to reason that someone who freelances would be well served with a solid list of core values from which to run their business, too?

Establishing core values as a freelancer might be a little unprecedented but can provide you with some advantages:

  • Having core values as a freelancer differentiates you with prospective clients
  • Core values help you in the decision-making process by keeping what’s important to you front and center
  • Core values can provide a roadmap for the future of your business
  • Core values help paint a picture for prospective clients about who you are
  • Core values help determine how people view what you bring to market

We’ve worked with clients to help them create their core values.

Living by them every day provides a consistent brand experience for their customers.

For one of our clients, we helped them write their core values by getting input from every individual in the organization about what they valued in business and in their personal life.

By understanding what their employees cared about, they created a unifying raison d'etre and a road map for how the organization operates every day.

Many of the values reflected how employees felt customers should be treated.

It’s no surprise then that for a third year running, they have been recognized for their commitment to excellence in customer service with the Stevie Award for Customer Service Department of the Year.

So how, as a freelancer, should you go about crafting your own personal set of core values?

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1. Reflect

Take a little time to think about what is important to you. Seriously.

You don’t have to spend an hour in the lotus position meditating to complete this part. A little quiet time will do the trick.

2. List

Write down everything that comes to you. You’ll perfect the wording in a later step. Just write. Let your inner voice speak up.

Remember that these are things you value in general. Trust. Respect. Honesty. Being heard. Doing fun work. Having balance.

One thing that ended up on our list was along the lines of doing really great work that helped our clients achieve success. It became: “Deliver value that builds our clients’ businesses beyond expectation.”

It helps to ensure that we always think about the impact of the work on our clients’ objectives.

3. Cull

Now it’s time to go through what you wrote. Chances are there is a bit of overlap.

Look for values that can be combined. Focus on the values you are the most passionate about.

You probably want a final list of between 4 and 10 core values. More than 10 usually means there is some overlap and also makes them hard to remember.

Spend time developing the wording of each in a way that has meaning to you. These are not meant to win a copywriting award.

They are meant to guide your business so above all they should resonate with you.

4. Post on the wall

So many places I’ve worked have a list of core values that are on the website but are not alive.

Once perfected, write them out and put them up somewhere you will see them all the time and refer to them. (If you’re a designer, have a little fun with the layout.)

Your core values become a filter for conducting your business, including who you choose to do business with, how you will treat your clients and others and how you will allow yourself to be treated.

More times than I can remember, we’ve turned to our core values when faced with a decision. Following them has never steered us wrong.

Feel free to peruse our Core Values and borrow any that work for you.

Jeanine Debar is the president at BrandTuitive, a branding agency in NYC. Since 2010, BrandTuitive has consistently delivered on-brand solutions and results-driven creative. Their clients range from global powerhouses to quickly emerging startups. Contact Jeanine at Jeanine.Debar@BrandTuitive.com.