What are Core Values? A List of 117 Examples You Can Explore for Your Own Business

December 20, 2022

What are Core Values?

Your core values are the foundation of what you/your company believe in and stand for. Just like personal values, your business core values are what you turn to when it comes time to make decisions–especially the tough ones. They guide you and help ensure that your choices stay aligned with who you are.

Why are Core Values Important?

Aside from being a key factor in the decision making process, your core values are also what help humanize your brand. Rarely do customers connect with a business or product just because of its specs. Instead, they connect with the “being” that is created with the brand. 

Now more than ever, customers are choosing to spend more money with brands that share their core values. They feel a connection and an understanding, thus are more inclined to support those kinds of businesses. By selecting core values with your customers top of mind, you improve your chances of developing lifetime fans of your business who will support it long after their first purchase.

How Do You Define Your Core Values?

There are two different methods you can use to define your core values:

  1. The Deduction Approach
  2. The Compilation Approach

If this is your first time defining core values, I recommend using the Deduction Approach where you will pair down an already existing list of values.

If, however, you feel comfortable starting with a blank slate, the Compilation Approach can work for you.

The Deduction Approach

For this approach you will be narrowing down a list of already existing core values. You can do this digitally, or you can print the values out on small sheets of paper and line them up on a table. Either way, the process is the same.

You will start by dividing the list into three different categories:

  • Not Important: meaning the value in the list isn’t one that resonates with you
  • Neutral/Semi-Important: meaning the value has some meaning, but not enough to go into the third category.
  • Very Important: meaning it is a value you feel strongly about

Here are a few questions to ask yourself to help you categorize the values:

  • When you make decisions, which of the words listed are things you consider before deciding?
  • Which words evoke an emotional reaction from you? 
  • Which words have a positive or negative connotation for you?

Once you have your values fully divided, you will get rid of all the words in the “Not Important” category and start the process over again, this time with fewer words but being more picky about what makes it into the “Neutral” and “Very Important” categories.

You will continue to do this process until you are down to 10 words. After that, you will select the top 4-5 that feel most applicable to you and your business. 

NOTE: For the first part of the exercise, try to make decisions quickly and based on gut feelings. 

Once you have your own core values written down, go back and do the exercise from the perspective of your ideal customers. What core values do you wind up with? How many of them coincide with your own? If possible, it can be useful to do this exercise with a few of your customers in order to get unbiased answers.

A List of Examples to Help You Get Started. 

This list was compiled by Brené Brown in her Dare to Lead Hub and is not a comprehensive list but is a wonderful place to start.

  • Accountability
  • Achievement
  • Adaptability
  • Adventure
  • Altruism
  • Ambition
  • Authenticity
  • Balance
  • Beauty
  • Being the best
  • Belonging
  • Career
  • Caring
  • Collaboration
  • Commitment
  • Community
  • Compassion
  • Competence
  • Confidence
  • Connection
  • Contentment
  • Contribution
  • Cooperation
  • Courage
  • Creativity
  • Curiosity
  • Dignity
  • Diversity
  • Environment
  • Efficiency
  • Equality
  • Ethics
  • Excellence
  • Fairness
  • Faith
  • Family
  • Financial stability
  • Forgiveness
  • Freedom
  • Friendship
  • Fun
  • Future generations
  • Generosity
  • Giving back
  • Grace
  • Gratitude
  • Growth
  • Harmony
  • Health
  • Home
  • Honesty
  • Hope
  • Humility
  • Humor
  • Inclusion
  • Independence
  • Initiative
  • Integrity
  • Intuition
  • Job security
  • Joy
  • Justice
  • Kindness
  • Knowledge
  • Leadership
  • Learning
  • Legacy
  • Leisure
  • Love
  • Loyalty
  • Making a difference
  • Nature
  • Openness
  • Optimism
  • Order
  • Parenting
  • Patience
  • Patriotism
  • Peace
  • Perseverance
  • Personal fulfillment
  • Power
  • Pride
  • Recognition
  • Reliability
  • Resourcefulness
  • Respect
  • Responsibility
  • Risk-taking
  • Safety
  • Security
  • Self-discipline
  • Self-expression
  • Self-respect
  • Serenity
  • Service
  • Simplicity
  • Spirituality
  • Sportsmanship
  • Stewardship
  • Success
  • Teamwork
  • Thrift
  • Time
  • Tradition
  • Travel
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Understanding
  • Uniqueness
  • Usefulness
  • Vision
  • Vulnerability
  • Wealth
  • Well-being
  • Wholeheartedness
  • Wisdom

The Compilation Approach

In the Compilation Approach you will be brainstorming ideas from scratch instead of removing them from a list. Ask yourself questions like:

  • When you make decisions, what kinds of things do you try to consider?
  • What ideas/concepts are important to you? 
  • What unspoken “rules/codes” do you live by?
  • What kinds of ideas/concepts do you connect with or feel moved by?

Let your gut be the guide for this exercise and remember that there are no wrong answers as you’re compiling.

After you’ve created a list, go back and do the exercise again from the point of view of your ideal customers. Are there any commonalities? If so, make note of those.

If you find that your list is a little too extensive, you can remove values using the same bucketing techniques from the Deduction Approach.

Need Help Defining Your Core Values?

No matter how you come up with your core values, having them will make a world of a difference for your brand and business. Whether you’re trying to connect with your customers on a more personal level or trying to make a tough decision, your new core values will lead the way.

If you want a little extra help figuring out your core values, book your free consultation call with us. We’re happy to walk you through the process and see how we can help you take your brand and business to the next level.

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