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Back in April as we started thinking about what we wanted our company to become, we set out to create values. We asked the question “What do you Value?“. We knew that these were going to be aspirational, and that we’d revise them over the next little while as we put them into place. What became immediately obvious to us though was that there were too many, that they weren’t specific enough, and that the only two we could remember were “Provide Ludicrous Value” and “Have Fun”.

We knew we had some work to do.

Then an interesting thing happened. We ended up working with a few companies that didn’t align with what we wanted to do. Those projects didn’t fit our vision of what we wanted to become, and many of them were “one and done” type jobs where we did something, but didn’t have a long term vision on how to work with the client.

That’s not good for us, and it’s not good for the company we are working with.

We realized that we needed to start evaluating every business opportunity against our company values. Are the people on the project a good fit for our personalities? Are the companies set in their ways, or do they want to challenge the status quo? Is the project interesting and challenging? Can we do something on the project that nobody else can offer? Will we enjoy the project, or are we just doing it for a paycheque?

After looking at where we went wrong, and thinking about what clients we work best with, we realized that our corporate goals could be boiled down to four items.

  1. Work with Good People and Good Companies
  2. Quality over Quantity
  3. Provide Ludicrous Value
  4. Have Fun

We killed “Build an Amazing Business”, because that is an outcome, not a value.  Sure, we want our business to be amazing, but if we follow the four values above, then we will have an amazing business.

Gone was “Teach What We Know”, the truth is many of our clients don’t want to learn…and that’s okay. We will never hide what we’re doing, and we’ll be fully transparent, but that is an offshoot of our promise to provide ludicrous value.

We sent “Leave our Mark on the World” packing. It’s a great aspirational goal, but it also competes directly with staying small and agile. We’ll leave our mark on our clients, but we wanted to get specific about what this meant. As part of providing ludicrous value, we want to give back to the city of London by fostering and developing new talent, and we’ll continue to share our story of how we built NorthIQ to show that there’s a better way to do marketing without becoming a soulless “agency”.

To be totally honest, taking any money that comes along is seductive, and it makes things much easier. It’s harder to shine a light on every deal that we make and see if it makes sense for our growth, but it’s the only way we can build the company we want to become.

Here are the Revised NorthIQ Values

1: Work with good people, and good companies
We want to work with amazing people, and work for incredible clients.  We want to work with companies who are open to changing the way they do things, and who want to grow and be better. We want to work with people who are willing to learn, and who will share with us how their business operates so that we can operate with knowledge in hand.

2: Quality over Quantity
We don’t need a ton of clients, we don’t need huge clients, we need clients who want to grow with us, and who challenge us to do our best work. NorthIQ will always be small, fast, and agile, we don’t want to be a mega agency.

3: Provide Ludicrous Value
We will only work with companies if we can meaningfully change their business. The best magicians are the ones who show you their entire trick and how it works, that’s why we will teach what we know. We will leave our clients’ businesses better than before we got involved. NorthIQ will give back to London by fostering and developing new talent, and to the world by showing that there’s a better way to run a company.

4. Have Fun
Enjoy the journey. Work hard. Celebrate small victories. Take frequent breaks. Stop to smell the roses.

This feels much easier to remember, it makes it much clearer for us to figure out who will be a good fit for us and who won’t be aligned with what we do and how we do it.

So there you have it. It’s only four months later, but after living them, we’ve realized we needed to revise our corporate values, but we want to know something: Does your company share your corporate values? Do you align your values with the people you work with, or are they strictly internal? Are we being too lofty, or is this the right way to build a business?

Brian Garside has been building websites for two decades and has worked on some of the largest websites in Canadian media. He focuses on creating good user experiences and building websites that make their owners money. Brian is certified in blogging and content marketing from Shaw Academy.