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Family Business Values That Make Your Company Successful

Christmas time puts cheer in almost every heart—even the Scroogiest Scrooge. Charles Dicken’s famed character was, in fact, a business banker which explains why he was so miserly, haha (with apologies to my wonderful banking friends).

Businesses are obviously engaged in making money—rightfully so or they will cease to exist.

Making money, however, is and cannot be the only objective or the business will eventually lose it’s way.

Most small businesses, particularly family businesses, have their origins in good will, good intent, self-reliance and personal responsibility. Those feelings naturally espouse values—or principles—to guide the everyday actions of the company.

Values, indeed, become the bedrock of any business because almost certainly they will be tried and tested.

We have discussed the value of integrity before. Nearly every company espouses this noble virtue, and has it proudly posted as an undisputed value of their business. Still, how often is that value ignored, brushed aside or forgotten when push-comes-to-shove? We see many, many examples of this fall in renowned companies across the world—Wells Fargo, Volkswagen, Uber, Samsung, Equifax are just a few that have suffered because of losing their value-based bearings.

The idea of governing values is as age-old as the values themselves.

They define who we are, what we love, what we work to accomplish and, ultimately, what our legacy, once we are gone, will be.

I invite each of us to take a pause, right now, and consider who it is in our lives that we really admire. Think about those people you really know and with which you closely associate (we are not talking about movie stars or politicians or famous entrepreneurs but people we really know).

I have a neighbor, as an example, that lives two houses down from me. He had a teenage daughter on a date with a great boy several years ago. The two were snowmobiling in a field on the outskirts of town one winter night. Unfortunately, the boy accidentally drove the sled into a deep ditch which he did not see in the dark shadows of night. The young girl hanging on tightly behind him was suddenly thrown over the sled and slammed her head into the ditch bank, causing her severe brain damage.

She was rushed to the hospital, but the accident caused her to go into a deep coma. She was trapped in that coma for over a year until she finally passed away.

This father, now my neighbor, is a spiritual leader in my local church. He, and his amazing wife, stand in front of the congregation often and talk about their family’s way back to happiness and life.

Their story is staggering to hear. They have survived because of their values. The boy who caused the accident is now married with children of his own. My neighbors attended his wedding reception, along with his graduation ceremony. They have loved him despite the fact that he was the driver that accidentally crashed their daughter into a ditch.

My neighbors are not famous or world renowned. They are everyday people but when you meet them they smile. They lift you with their spirits. They give you hope when you feel alone or failing.

Indeed, they are some of the most extraordinary, everyday people you will ever meet.

I admire them because of their character, courage, stamina, love, charity, kindness and service to others.

I admire them because they have overcome impossible pain.

I admire them because they put God and their values above everything else—no matter what.

My point here is that we really admire everyday people that do extraordinary things—those people are everywhere but rarely memorialized.

These are the people we should set in our lives as examples. Frankly, these are the type of people we most admire. The idea is that these are the type of people that set their values in concrete and never move from them at any cost or at any expense.

Each of us should strive to be these kind of people. Each of us should strive to run these kinds of businesses. In the end, these are the people that hold our admiration and these are the people that survive as real heros.

Small business would be smart to act the same—even when it is hard, even when it might seem impossible.

Profits and long-term success come, ultimately, from these same applied principles. If they come otherwise then they are of little worth and they will not last.

We hear amazing stories of businesses that champion sick employees or work together on a charitable projects or community causes. These types of activities, based in the values they espouse, create a business culture that drives success and keeps success coming.

Certainly, as I stated earlier, these kinds of things are not always possible—many small businesses do not have the resources but even then the values espoused should be felt inside the organization.

We hear values such as team play, hard work, getting better, listening, community caring, passion, fun, accountability, life balance, exceeding expectations, be the good, etc., etc.

Does your company move and act upon these stated, or even implied, values?

I hope that answer for all of us is yes. If not, it is time to make some changes. No one is perfect. No company is perfect, but we can get better.

Next year is on the doorstep. Find a value you want to drive home in your business and make it happen. It will make you and your company better. It will make you and the employees at your company happier.

Merry Christmas and may happiness be your lot this season and into the new year.