Why You Need Personal and Business Core Values

What gets you up in the morning? Seriously think about it. Your alarm goes off, why are you getting out of bed? A lot of adults would say they have to pay bills, provide for a family, save for a great vacation, but there has to be more right? It can’t just be all about money?

If it were all about money then you would go to the worst company ever if they paid you well and you would stay at a terrible job that provides a good value for you.

The truth is, money is part of why we get up, but what keeps us going each day is much deeper than that.

The average adult makes about 35,000 decisions a day. However, have you ever wondered what guides the process behind making these decisions? Do you know what influences your choices?

Almost all the decisions you make in life stem from your core values. Your core values encompass your foundational beliefs. They dictate your behavior and help you to make the decisions that you do.

Both personal and business core values are important if you want to succeed and they should be a part of any life or business plan. These values are broad concepts that you can apply to various situations repeatedly to guide your actions. In this article, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at core values, why they matter and how to discover yours.

What is a Core Value? Core Values Meaning

The broad definition of core values is that they are a set of fundamental beliefs, ideals or practices that an individual or organization operates from. They are the principal perspectives that guide the way a person or organization behaves with others.

People and organizations usually have about 10 or fewer core values. Identifying core values for yourself or your company can provide structure and guidance in challenging situations. For example, let’s say one of your core values is honesty. In this instance, you decide whether or not to keep certain pieces of information confidential or not.

To better understand core values, let’s take a look at personal core values and business core values.

What are Personal Core Values?

Core values are standards that guide the choices and actions of people. Usually, we make decisions based on the possible impact they’d have on our values. However, most of the time we do this unconsciously. This is because we are aware that our core values can have ambiguous implications.

Importance of Personal Core Values

Core values influence behavior and form beliefs. Personal core values are important for personal development. They can guide you to make intelligent decisions by playing into your strengths, wants and needs.

Personal values examples include honesty, loyalty, reliability, consistency and commitment. People in happy relationships often say that their partners share the same values. This means that they both share the same core values that dictate how they live their lives.

In an ideal world, all of our core beliefs will be positive. However, we are not living in an ideal world and values like greed and self-interest exist. Negative values can develop if you’ve had to survive in a tough situation or if you live in fear.

How to Discover Your Personal Core Values

1. Write Down your Values

Review the core values list below and write down the ones that resonate with you most. Choose the values that best describe your feelings and behaviors. You add other values if it’s not on our list as well.

2. Consider the People You Admire Most

Oftentimes, values are personified in those we love and admire. When we admire a quality in someone it is usually because it is something we value as well. Make a list of 6 people that you admire.

This can include a colleague who you admire because of their dedication or a family member because of their empathy. You can also include people you consider heroes. For example, many people admire Martin Luther King Jr. for his commitment to fighting for social justice.

The idea here is to note the values of 6 people you admire.

3. Consider your Experiences

If you want to learn about your values, reflect on the best and worst moments in your life. Think about what these moments revealed about your core values. For example, winning an award as a professor. This means leadership and motivating others are important to you. Meanwhile, negative and painful experiences may have taught you empathy and compassion for others.

4. Time to Consolidate

After drafting your master list of core values, it’s time to consolidate and categorize them. For example, if you have optimism, motivation, and inspiration, they can all go into one category.

5. Identify your Central Theme

Once all your core values are in categories, choose a word that best represents the group. You can leave the other words in the group to give the main word more context. For example, if you wrote values like loyalty, commitment and honesty, group[ them under a core value of “human relationships.”

6. Choose your Top Core Values

The number of core values differs from person to person. However, it is always best to narrow them down to five or ten. From your list, choose the top values that are essential to your life. You can always come back to your list to see if your top picks reflect your core values. If they don’t you can always adjust them to make sure they’re in the correct order.

What are Business Core Values?

Like personal core values, business core values are guiding principles for the choices and actions businesses operate from. They will help with the marketing you do and the technology you choose. They differ from company to company and are mostly pre-set while you have to uncover your personal ones.

The core values of an organization cover all activities including the various strategies that are used to fulfill a purpose and how everyone interacts with each other. They are the core elements that set the work ethic of the organization.

Importance of Business Core Values

Business core values facilitate decision-making. An organization will get rid of any product if its core value is standing behind quality. These values let potential and current clients and customers learn about the company’s identity. They give the customers an idea of what to expect when doing business with the company. A solid set of core values can help put a company one step ahead in a competitive market.

Core values can even help when recruiting new employees. Job seekers tend to apply for jobs at companies that share the same core beliefs as them. Core values help to distinguish a company’s identity in various ways. A company can become more competitive in the marketplace and as an employer. This is because both its clients and employees know what it stands for.

According to Forbes Magazine, “Employers should trade 90 percent talent for just 10 percent character.” A company’s productivity can increase when it attracts like-minded employees who share the same core values. Companies that abide by their core values show integrity which can foster loyalty.

Business core value also affects behavior. Defining and enforcing certain values can inspire employees to go above and beyond for the company. Core values can help shape the work environment and maintain high performance regardless of the circumstances.

How to Identify Business Core Values

1. Assign Someone to be In Charge

It is important to choose someone to be in charge of this process. It can either be one person or a group of individuals. Decide how accountability will be kept and make sure the main focus is on core values and not aspirational values. It may seem insignificant but it can be hard to tell the difference between what you hope to achieve when you’re constantly in it as part of your daily life.

2. Bring everyone on board

It is important to bring everyone on board. A diverse group of people with different organizational skills may prove beneficial. This includes managers, executives, product developers, frontline employees, and customer service representatives. Moreover, part-time employees and even interns can help.

Try to get commitment from the executive leadership team, C-suite or co-founders as well. Engage them in discussions with regards to why it is important to have core values and what difference can they make?

3. Get Inspired

The next thing you can do is to find other companies in your industry and beyond that inspires you. Check out their list of core values. Take the time to go through every single one of them carefully. Choose the one that resonates with you and your company the most. You should also make a note of why that specific core value resonates with you and your company.

4. Ask for Input

Once you have a rough draft of your company’s core values, ask the people in your organization for their input. Be open to what they have to say and incorporate anything useful they have to say.

5. Make it Clear

Once you have your set of company core values, it’s time to clarify things. Take some time to understand what these core values mean for the organization. Do note that this step may take some time and several iterations so don’t get frustrated.

6. Get Internal Feedback

You can now present the final list of core values to everyone in the organization. Organize a Q&A session and take into consideration any concerns.

Core Values Examples

Here are some examples of values. This is not an exhaustive list of core values examples so you can add any you think is missing.

  • Achievement
  • Ambition
  • Caring
  • Charity
  • Collaboration
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Dependability
  • Empathy
  • Encouragement
  • Enthusiasm
  • Ethics
  • Excellence
  • Fairness
  • Family
  • Friendships
  • Flexibility
  • Freedom
  • Fun
  • Generosity
  • Growth
  • Happiness
  • Health
  • Honesty
  • Humor
  • Individuality
  • Innovation
  • Intelligence
  • Intuition
  • Joy
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Making a difference
  • Motivation
  • Optimism
  • Open-mindedness
  • Passion
  • Perfection
  • Performance
  • Personal development
  • Popularity
  • Power
  • Professionalism
  • Punctuality
  • Quality
  • Recognition
  • Relationships
  • Reliability
  • Resilience
  • Risk-taking
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Self-control
  • Service
  • Spirituality
  • Stability
  • Success
  • Thankfulness
  • Traditionalism
  • Understanding
  • Wealth
  • Well-being
  • Wisdom


A solid set of core values are important when it comes to making important decisions. Personal core values can help you find your purpose, increase your confidence, etc. Meanwhile, business core values are crucial for making decisions. They also educate their principles to potential and current customers, employees and stakeholders.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Joe Martin

Joe Martin

Dad, Husband, and reformed ski bum. VP of Content and Digital Scorpion, Former CMO of CloudApp and Marketing Lead for Adobe.