If you're new here, you may not know that, in addition to managing this blog and providing a variety of small business coaching services, I am the founder and CEO of the INDIE Beauty Network, a trade organization providing advocacy, networking, and learning resources to small manufacturers of soaps, cosmetics, fragrances, jewelry, and other health, beauty and lifestyle products. One of the first things I did when I started the organization in January 2000 was create a set of Core Principles, to which all new and renewing members agree.
I shared my personal Core Values here, and lately, I've been thinking a lot about corporate core values because my INDIE Business Book Club partners and I are currently reading Delivering Happiness. (Read and grow with us on Twitter by following @indiebookclub and the #indiebookclub hash tag.) In it, author and Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh emphasies the importance of Zappos's core principles to the culture of the company. While IBN is not a company with hundreds of employees like Zappos, it is a membership-based organization which, since its inception, has maintained a set of Core Principles. Here they are:
- Cleanliness in manufacture. To abide by the highest standards of cleanliness and quality in the manufacture of my products, in order to promote superior quality products and the safety of the consuming public.
- Truth in marketing. To provide the public with useful, reliable and truthful information about the benefits of the products and services I offer.
- Respect of intellectual property. To compete within the bounds of the law, respecting others' ownership rights in their intellectual property and the expression of their ideas.
- Follow state and federal laws. To abide by all federal and state laws concerning the manufacture and sale of the products and services I offer.
- See note below.
- Compliance with cosmetics laws. (This section applies only to members that manufacture cosmetics.) I understand that compliance with the Fair Labeling & Packaging Act and the US Food, Drug & Cosmetics Act is my responsibility, and that I can find information about both at the FDA's website at this link. I understand and agree that failure to comply with these laws may result in termination of my IBN membership and/or insurance without any refund.
(Core Principle #6 is a subset of Core Principle #4, and was added last year.) IBN's Core Principles do not supersede or in any way replace the law or the standards that IBN members convey to their customers in the ordinary course of their own businesses. They add to the confidence IBN members's customers already have in the products and services IBN members offer.
Infusing meaning into IBN's Core Principles is a responsibility I take seriously. I enjoy standing by our Core Principles with IBN members who are doing all they can to uphold high industry standards as we all learn and grow together.
Standing For Something
In Chapter 5 of his book, Tony describes Zappos's Core Values as “a formalized definition of our culture.” I love that description because it's exactly how I view IBN's Core Principles. IBN is more than just a bunch of “members.” We are a family, a community; a network of people who are proud to create American-made products on a small scale. Our collective aim is to enhance people's lives and make the world a better place.
(NOTE: Core Principle #5 is a bit different from the rest. It's there because it's the best way to inform members of how to renew their products liability insurance policy before it lapses. The insurance renewal process will soon be changed, and when that happens, Core Principle #5 may be removed.)
Question: What are your company's Core Principles, or as Tony calls them, Core Values? Do you share them publicly, like at your blog or in your company receiving area?