David Hauser on the importance of core values

Patrick Campbell Jun 29 2021

Imagine... Sunday morning on a nice spring day. You're walking down the street, you turn the corner and boom—the scent hits you. It's sweet. It's delicious. Your brain is just shuffling through the names of the different baked goods that it might be, and it settles on this nostalgia that fills your heart. That memory of a grandparent's tasty treats is just met with the visual representation of the bakery where the scent is wafting from, as you continue to walk down the street.  

When you get into the bakery and the door clangs,  it’s clear that your nose was telling your eyes the truth. And before long your taste buds are just joining in on the fun. After sampling multiple offerings it’s clear that the time and dedication spent on these tasty treats, and going to the bakery to get those treats, was well worth it. But if you think about it and take a step back—what exactly went into getting to that point where you're enjoying that scent and that taste that you were seeking? What had to go into making that a successful product?

Creating a fantastic product that can be replicated over and over again, takes vigilance. At the back of the house there has to be clear values and goals to guide progress. You have to make sure you are experimenting a certain percentage of the time to understand exactly how to get the recipe correct. And when considering personnel, it doesn’t do anyone any favors to make excuses for passed deadlines and misappropriated skills. And above all else, learning has to be ingrained into the process or stagnation with the recipe will take over any improvement.

These are hard lessons learn when building a business. And someone who has done a fantastic job, not only learning these lessons, but making sure they don't have to learn the again, has been David Hauser. Particularly on his journey founding Grasshopper and Chargify. As an operator, he was able to push forward a borderline, ruthless approach to growth and progress. And to top it off, he has an insatiable appetite to strategically execute new ventures. While he may not be building his own nostalgic-inducing bakery, he does know what it takes to develop an all-star product. 

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Here we summarize the main takeaways for you to implement or hand off to your team for implementation.


Key term

What are core values?

David explains that company core values are guiding principles that never change and that transcend the product or service. They’re the beliefs, philosophies, and principles that drive your business and differentiate you from your competitors.

Why are they important?

Your core values will shape your company culture and will determine how your company is perceived. As David puts it, “culture is the building block of a great company.” It’s absolutely crucial for growth. Having a strong company culture, means your team members are able to understand the expectations, behaviors, and goals, and perform accordingly. 

Furthermore, your core values will help you hire the right people—those that align with your core values, which is key to helping you scale. Your core values will impact every aspect of your business. So yea, they’re pretty important.


Action plan:

What to do today: 

What to do next quarter:

Define your core values. It’s important to know the type of company you want to be (or are) and what you’re working for. Not just what you’re offering in terms of product or service, but what you want to represent as a whole. Your core values should be integrated into every aspect of what you do, as they will be a crucial part of building and growing a successful company. And it’s one of the first things you should establish when starting a company. 

So, we’ve gathered some info to help you, either refine and clarify your existing values, or establish new ones. But keep in mind that there is no right way to do this. Every company is different and has its own story. The important thing is that you define them, and that you live by them.

  1. Start by identifying the values that are important to you
    • When you start a business, you do so based on your beliefs and experiences. 
      • What is important to you? 
      • What are the values and qualities that drive you and led you to start your business? 
      • What keeps you going even during difficult times within your business?
      • What are you doing well that has helped your company grow?
      • What parts of your company are you proud of?
      • What values or principles are non-negotiable?

  2. Put them in writing 
    • There’s definitely more to implementing your core values, but it’s still important to make them visible and clear, and it’s a good place to start communicating them.

  3. Explain the importance of your values
    • It’s important to explain why they're important, and what it means for them and the company—establish an emotional connection.

  4. Put them into action
    • The most effective way to communicate your core values is through action, starting with your leadership team. They should be practiced daily.
    • Refer to them regularly, particularly when making decisions.
    • Take any opportunity to reference them, and consistently live up to them.

  5. Integrate your values 
    • Your values should be integrated into everything that you do—how you hire, discharge, promote, train, and reward team members, as well as how leadership addresses and corrects certain behaviors.

  6. Simplify your values 
    • Make them easy to understand and to remember.


What to do within the next year:

Continue to exercise your core values. Measure the improvements or setbacks that could be linked to your core values. As your business grows, it will change and evolve, so you’ll want to revisit your values. Your basic values are likely to remain the same, but they may need to be adjusted to match your new goals and objectives.

Who should own this? 

Your leadership team.


Who's up next week?

Next week, Vivek Sharma talks to us about visualization and growth.

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By Patrick Campbell

Founder & CEO of ProfitWell, the software for helping subscription companies with their monetization and retention strategies, as well as providing free turnkey subscription financial metrics for over 20,000 companies. Prior to ProfitWell Patrick led Strategic Initiatives for Boston-based Gemvara and was an Economist at Google and the US Intelligence community.

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