When I moved from working for government to being in business, I understood public service values and how important they are, but did not really focus on what business values I might want to subscribe to. I soon learned that business values are at least as important as public service values.

Admittedly, from what we learn of the more notorious examples of corporate misdoings, and personally from some of the negative experiences I’ve had as a business owner and as a customer over the years, I believe the term “business values” is for some business owners and executives at best an afterthought. And yes, I have had experience too of public servants not subscribing in practice to the values of that sector.

As for me, I no more wish to do business with such people, or to have a values-free business myself, than I would wish to live in a values-free society, with everyone for themselves and the Devil take the hindmost.

It’s not just a matter of pragmatism. I firmly believe it is a key part of how most of us want to live our lives.

For those of us in business, we spend a lot of time at it, and to an extent and to varying degrees what we do or don’t do in business defines us and is going to be our legacy.

Do we want to be, and be remembered, as shysters and tricksters, for whom business is solely about making a profit by whatever means we can manage, or as business people of principle, with high values, with alignment between our stated values and how we actually run our businesses on a day to day basis?

Does that sound serious? Well, it’s meant to be.

But does it exclude having fun?

Far from it.

Having Fun as a Business Value

Every now and again I remind myself of a set of business values adopted and applied by legendary entrepreneur Sir Richard Branson.

In one version I read of those, for his Virgin brand, the list was:

  • Value for money
  • Quality
  • Reliability
  • Innovation
  • Sense of fun

One reason I like travelling on planes with the Virgin brand is that the cabin crew practise that sense of fun.

Without in any way creating a sense that they don’t take their job, and the passengers’ safety, completely seriously.

It’s a nice balance.

Not that we should expect to always get the balance right.

But in my business, if there is a risk that sometimes people will mistake my intention to have fun doing business for a lack of appropriate seriousness of purpose about providing great service, then that’s a risk I’m prepared to take. I reckon in the long run it will play out well for everyone concerned.

Is a sense of fun, or something similar, one of your business values? Or doesn’t the idea appeal?

Image credit: “Sir Richard Branson at the British Polo Day Morocco Gala Dinner at Dar Soukkar. Credit Keoma Yac (10)”, riz9 CC 2.0

(An earlier version of this post was published by me in 2012 on Thinking Home Business.)

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Des Walsh is a business coach and social media strategist. He helps owners of small and medium business meet confidently the special challenges of this age of rapid transformation, deliver great results and stay balanced and happy in the process. Des has been actively engaged for over 20 years in promoting the business opportunities of the digital economy, is a certified specialist in social media strategy, a blogger, podcaster and co-author of the best-selling book LinkedIn for Recruiting.

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