What's the best way to create company core values?


My start-up is in idea stage. Before execution gets too far, I'd like to have my core values and mission statement finalized. Any advice, examples, templates or strategy to share?

Company Core Values

asked Oct 14 '09 at 14:23
Amanda Mc Guckin Hager
36 points

5 Answers


I'm happy to share our process around this. We started by reading a lot of examples of others' Guiding Principles (which include core values and a mission statement), thinking hard about what we want to do and talking about it at the board level. I then constructed some preliminary concepts and spend individually or in pairs with everyone on the team, getting buy-in and feedback. Eventually, we came up with a set of values we could all rally around (which was made much more challenging than if we had done it when there were only the couple cofounders, but a necessary process).

I detailed a bit more about the results of that process here - http://www.seomoz.org/blog/establishing-guiding-principles-at-seomoz I have to say, though, when you're very early in a startup, be ready to get flexible about mission and core purpose. We've evolved 5-6 times over the last 6 years and every time it's been good. Part of me is almost happy we took our time getting to a slightly more mature stage before adopting these.

answered Oct 14 '09 at 14:58
1,001 points
  • This is the exact framework I was seeking and didn't know it until I read your answer. Thank you! I should have realized going back to From Good to Great would be in order. Muchas Gracias! – Amanda Mc Guckin Hager 15 years ago


Core values come from the tone you set and whether you practise them consistently....

answered Oct 14 '09 at 16:29
Mark Stephens
976 points
  • That is my goal :) Thank you for your comment. – Amanda Mc Guckin Hager 15 years ago
  • Thank you for this Mark. It is my goal to practice my core values consistently. I am attempting to architect them in such a way that they can apply to the majority of decisions made. And 100% of the "big" ones. :) – Amanda Mc Guckin Hager 15 years ago


Mission for a startup can be based on "What were we thinking when we were raising money" ex: We want to build the best underwater fire fighter in the world.
The mission could evolve / change with our business

Core values - These are irrespective of the business, product etc....These do not change....these are underlying pillars.....
ex: do not lie
ex: the ten commandments
ex: First and fore most we are responsible for our patients, doctors, nurses, mothers, and fathers.....This is not verbose but something similar from Johnson and Johnson...

answered Oct 14 '09 at 21:29
111 points
  • Agreed 100%. And the exact reason I want to get these ironed out now, as the company grows and "shiny objects" distract, I want to have something to always come back to - the core values. Thanks for sharing this! – Amanda Mc Guckin Hager 15 years ago


The standard trifecta are the: Mission, Vision and Values statements. These are the traditional ways to communicate your culture. The one that I think is a lot better comes from Guy Kawasaki. It's the Mantra.

Most people don't remember the Mission, Vision and Values but they can remember a Mantra. The Nike example above shows their Vision and Mission, which most of us did not even know but we do know Nike's Mantra: Just Do It!

Along with the Mantra, you have to set the example for the kind of culture you want. Walk the walk, talk the talk and live the culture. No words on a page can replace that.

answered Oct 14 '09 at 22:01
Jarie Bolander
11,421 points
  • Love this advice - thank you! – Amanda Mc Guckin Hager 15 years ago
  • Thanks. We struggled with the whole Mission, Vision and Values at my company and decided that what we really needed was a Mantra. – Jarie Bolander 15 years ago


We put together an article about writing mission & vision statements years ago. The underlying idea is that these statements express the DNA of your company and help create a unified direction that everyone in the company can follow.

Vision: this is a powerful, big picture statement summarized into a single phrase or sentence.

Mission: sets out what you are going to do to accomplish your vision.

Here is an example from one of the world's brand leaders:

Nike Vision: "To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world "

Nike Mission: "Innovate for a better world "

I think it's important to be authenitic when developing these statements. Sometimes people will project what they would like to be onto their mission & vision statements, but that may not necessarily reflect who they are likely to be. When you are done these statements should resonate your unique DNA.

answered Oct 14 '09 at 15:08
Julie King
871 points
  • It is my intention to get these down now, and it is very important to me to be authentic. (I wouldn't have this any other way.) This example gives me some framework to put around that process. Thank you for sharing! – Amanda Mc Guckin Hager 15 years ago

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