Build your business upon core principles. Here’s why.

Is your business driven by core principles? How do you communicate what those are to your clients? And is doing so important? I’ve decided that it is. I’ve learned there is a particular type of client or customer that appeals to me, and those that don’t. I prefer to work with curious, open-minded people that respect others’ points-of-view, and value others’ contributions. Folks that like to explore possibilities before settling upon decisions. I don’t work well with more closed or narrow-minded people who believe they’ve got everything figured out, don’t seriously consider alternatives, and discount the value I contribute. For me to find success in my business, I need to honor, and take seriously the difference between these two. 

Knowing what principles your business is built upon

How to go about doing this? For me, I’ve decided to let people in on what is important to me, and what I value in a working relationship. So, I took a moment to think about things I value, and how they might inform my business. I came up with eleven:

  1. I am responsible. This is as much a reminder to myself as it is a communication to my clients. There is no one else to appeal to. 
  2. I do not shrink from challenges. Challenges motivate me to do my best. I’m not one to seek out the easy path just because. But…
  3. I am honest about what I know, and what I do not. The message I’m trying to covey here is that while I’m willing to try things, I won’t mislead folks about my abilities. 
  4. My opinion is free. My knowledge, experience, and talent is not. Pretty self-explanatory I think. 
  5. There is always more to learn. This is a reminder to myself not to get stuck in the familiar. Or to ever think that I already know all there is to know. 
  6. I shall be unapologetically me. Always. Decision point for my clients; reminder to myself.
  7. Frugality is a virtue. More isn’t the answer. There’s beauty in efficiently working with available resources if you look hard enough.
  8. I will not waste my time. Or my client’s. This is about being intentional about my reasons for being in business. 
  9. The glass is half full. I’m a pragmatic optimist. Pessimism brings me down, and I’ve found that I struggle working with people that fixate on the negative, deny their own power or operate from a resource poor perspective.
  10. Diversity is a strength. Truly. It takes a special arrogance to believe otherwise.
  11. I am not limited by another’s vision. Ever. In other words, your limitations are your own.

This is the foundation I’m building my business upon. All eleven have grown out of my own experience. Your’s would be different. But I recognize that going against these values, consciously or not, will at some point get me into trouble or situations that ultimately won’t serve me well. Or will keep me from achieving the goals I’ve set for my business. 

Why this matters

When I decided to build what has become Flour Design Studio, I spent substantial time thinking about why I wanted to go back into business for myself. First, I wasn’t running away from anything. I had a good job that I enjoyed doing, and was recognized by my employer and others for my contributions. More than anything else, I started my business because I was running toward the future, and work that I knew I really needed to pursue at this point in my life. Second, I had a good sense of what I wanted to focus on, how I wanted to do it, and who I wanted to do it with. With my first business, I was interested in appealing to the broadest range of possible clients because that’s how I understood I was supposed to do business. I was wrong about that. I was wrong because in trying to work that way, I devalued who I was, and consequently ended up with clients and projects that challenged my principles for how I believe architects should create value in society. Now, I understand that who I am, my values, and approach, is not for everyone. Honestly, understanding this is a relief. It frees me to be at peace with how people may see me. This, I cannot control. I can only say, as clearly as possible, who I am, what I believe, and how that influences the way I work. Similarly, I now also understand that I don’t want to work with just anyone.

Be about it

Of course, living one’s principles while in business is the hardest part. Because things that really matters oftentimes come at a cost. But the benefit is authenticity. And a strong foundation upon which you can grow your business in a manner that truly reflects who you are.

Similar Posts