How To Determine Values For Your Business – Generating Value Architecture For Founders

As employees, we all know what we want. We want appreciation and more often than not we like to think we could be the boss too. This industry makes dreams king so those with gumption, drive and an awesome idea will suddenly find themselves out there founding startups.

Here’s where what I have to say is a no-brainer:

Learn from the other guys who’ve been where you’re standing now and listen to what they have to say.

I know it’s cold at the top so here’s some hot ideas for you to consider if you are a founder or dreaming of becoming one. The name of the game is values. Without values, your bricks have no mortar. Be brutal. Be honest. Ask yourself, what are your values? What are the values of your co-founders? What are the values of your startup employees?

Stop right there because if everyone’s not on the same page then the party’s over. As sure as there are 24-hour drive-thrus, disagreements are going to be knocking so consider how you will discuss differing values. Some things might be non-negotiable so have a game plan as to how to deal with this possible friction.

Once the team objectives are established, double check- are they understandable? Differing opinion is what will make you a business leader most of the time but not in your core team values.

Ok, you’re saying, thanks for the general advice but I want details!

No probs. You want the specific 411 on how to determine values for your business? Let me break it down to some specific questions you and your team can work through to make those incredible ideas into cohesive packages.

1) Personal Values for Startups

Why are you/we doing this in the first place? Are those answers going to keep you going when you run into bumps on the road?

What are team members’ other commitments- children, retirement? Better to know who can stay late or will be only around for two years than not.

Discuss your fears. It’s true your wife might leave you if you’re never around or you might be scared of losing creative input. Let everybody know what’s on your mind.

Find out the things that tick people off. Believe me, you’ll have no idea if you never ask and getting this out of the way now might save millions in legal services.

You want honest? Ask your team what would make them leave the company and when you have had enough of them pretending to be kings and queens for five minutes, ask what their character flaws are. Nothing brings a team closer than that sort of honesty. Finally, while they’re licking their wounds, ask them their strengths and what they’re good at.

Get the lowdown on people’s ideas of working hours, whether they’ll work weekends and what they expect in terms of time off.

2) Financial Values

Ask your team for their fair market salaries and their minimum expectations and for how long they can put up with the minimum.


What about when the money runs out? Knowing your team is or is not willing to consult or draft in venture funding will help you all steer the ship to success. Coupled with this is asking how the founder’s pie should be split should the company sell. Remember everyone has a price so ask what that would be should the company ever be sold.

These questions and their answers should be written down and reviewed on occasion as conditions and circumstance will change too.

Like a good building, foundations take work but with good structure, the sky’s the limit!

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