By Adam Bullock, ‘UK Director of TopCashback’.
Formulating your company ethos is the first step you can take in moulding what your reputation is, and what it will be in the future. By setting the tone early you’ll be able to lead your business in the right direction.
Keep it simple
An ethos is your company’s core values and principles. It’s what you should think about, refer to or embody when making strategic decisions and developing your business. Understanding what your ethos is or should be, may not be as daunting or as complicated as you’d imagine though. Your ethos could be a simple commitment to a certain ideal. This can be anything to do with any aspect of your business – for example, always putting the customer first, treating all your employees equally, giving something back to society etc.
Keeping it simple and straightforward will enable your ethos to permeate throughout all aspects of the business. Think of this as a seed that you plant that’ll grow and evolve as your company does – so there’s no need to rush straight into something complex with promises you can’t yet deliver.
Pick something that sets yourself apart from your competitors
Outside of direct comparisons between your product or service, your ethos will provide an additional measurement by which people can distinguish your company from your competitors. A fun way you could think of this is like a stencil drawing. You and your competitors may both have similar outlines, but it’s your ethos, and how it influences your company, that will add colour to your drawing and make a more complete picture. Presumably you will already be keeping a keen eye on what your competitors are doing or not doing. Looking for these potential blind spots will help you flesh out your own ethos and address things that they have not.
Focus on things you are genuinely invested in
Nowadays, an increased focus on corporate environmental, social and governance issues has meant that customers want, and expect, more out of their favourite brands than simply supplying a product or service. That’s why it’s important that your ethos is genuine and really represents what your company is about.. You should make sure that your company’s values and principles are clearly apparent through your ethos. Doing so will mean that you will have more success attracting like-minded individuals that can fit in well with the culture you’re trying to establish.
Think long term
When developing your ethos, you may want to focus on the present and pick something that is relevant to you now. It’s important to take into account how your company may develop over time and how this may affect your ethos in the future. Will it still apply to all aspects of your business, or is it something that might feel quickly outdated? Perhaps you will outgrow your present ethos. It’s sometimes hard to predict or imagine where your company will be in 10 years’ time, but thinking long term now will hopefully ensure your ethos stays as current and compatible in the future as it is from day one.
Make sure your ethos is translatable
If your ethos cannot apply to multiple areas within your business, then you need to consider values that are more inclusive which benefit as many aspects of your company as possible. In addition, it’s important that your ethos is as relevant internally as it is externally. A robust ethos will consider multiple aspects of your business – including your staff and internal processes. Strong core values that benefit your staff will also help with employee engagement and retention. For example, at TopCashback, the ethos of Fair Play is applicable all throughout the company – from the staff to the members, clients, and communities. This is because at its core, Fair Play is a commitment to treat people fairly – a simple and translatable principle.
Develop a long-term communications strategy for internal and external purposes
Establishing the right ethos for your business is obviously an important first step, but it means little if you do not communicate it clearly and consistently. A communications strategy will take many different forms depending on the size of your operations, employee numbers, supplier chain, customer base etc. Start educating those within your business first and then expand outwards. If your colleagues do not understand your ethos, then it’s unlikely your customers or general public will either. You’ll always need to stay agile within your market and adapt to different demands etc., but hopefully, if you have followed the previous steps, your company ethos will remain evergreen.