Subscribe to Entrepreneur for $5

5 Core Values Your Company Needs to Put into Action Now

Without instilling values as a foundation, everything can crumble.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Like many entrepreneurs, I’ve read plenty of books that evangelize the importance of core values. These guides give us a critical understanding of the theory and the framework to put it into action. But it wasn't until I built a second business that I truly understood the power of core values. They have helped build a community of colleagues who share wins and failures, eat challenges for breakfast, and genuinely care about and nurture each other.

kate_sept2004 | Getty Images

Here are the values we chose and examples of how they work in action.

1. Be energetic

Ok, first thing’s first: You can take your core values seriously, but you must not take yourself too seriously. While there are plenty of boring versions of this one — like a bald eagle poster with "Excellence" on it — putting personality and energy into our values made them more effective (and fun).

Our team is loud, proud, and hungry to win. We are eager to dominate the competition and make some noise doing it.

How this plays out in the real world:

Our business was paying far too much for direct goods. We set an objective to fix this, and the entire team went after it like a school of piranha. When the company finally locked in a new supply contract — chopping our costs in half — everyone started shouting with joy over the big company win. It was glorious.

2. Keep it 100

Good leaders and good teams are authentic. This core value is a combo of being proactive and creating a culture of openness. We seek to uncover issues ASAP and encourage everyone to come forward with stuff so we can all help fix it.

How this plays out in the real world:

One of our people learned that his cousin passed away while he was at work. He could have bottled it up, but instead, he shared his raw emotion with a colleague who supported him. Genuinely expressing his feelings allowed him to receive authentic help — and the benefits of building a stronger team are invaluable.

3. Grow or die

This core value applies to companies, of course. But it also pertains to people. Many individuals go through life treading water in the same spot. They are stagnant because they don’t take the time to evolve and advance.

We encourage everyone on our team to learn from failures, be results-oriented, and concentrate on self-improvement—so all of us always get better.

How this played out in the real world:

At a certain point, our co-founder Beau and I hit a wall with the business. To break through it, we knew we had to learn and adapt. So we joined our local chapter of Entrepreneurs' Organization to network with people who could teach us a thing or 20 and buried our noses in even more entrepreneurial resources.

The entire company shares this mindset. We invest in our people, and they invest in themselves, unleashing incredible problem-solving and engagement. Be eager to learn and hunger for achievement.

4. Unleash your inner Deadpool

You might not love the feisty, wisecracking Marvel superhero as much as we do. But you have to admit he keeps it real.

For some folks, work means changing character and acting out some mythical “professional” standard. Their true behavior is left behind as soon as they walk in the door. We tell our people to be who they are and not leave their personalities in the parking lot.

How this plays out in the real world:

 A small example is when we evaluated CBD ad copy, and someone said, “Uh, sounds like weed.” Our inevitable response was a perfectly deadpan, “What does weed sound like?”

Our team playfully talks smack to create laughter. It’s how we interact with each other and our community.

Whether you crack jokes at meetings or simply stay positive, enjoy what you do. Have a little fun and work becomes a life highlight.

5. Deliver happiness

How many times have you dealt with a company with no phone number, a terrible return policy, or staff who just don’t give a ****?

“Deliver Happiness” is our last core value because it embodies why we do what we do and how we do it. It directly ties to our mission of making anxiety relatable and fighting it. And we’ll do whatever it takes to welcome people with these issues into our community.

How this plays out in the real world:

We call every company superfan to check up on them — asking whether they like the product, how it's working for them, and if there’s anything we can do. These interactions are incredibly positive for the customers, team members, and the business. And this value extends to how we treat vendors, partners, and each other.

I encourage every entrepreneur to take ownership of their brand, do the right thing, and genuinely care for your team and customers. Deliver happiness, and happiness will deliver success.

Core values aren’t just a box to check

In the end, all of those business books had it right. Defining core values is essential. They build a common language and culture that provide direction. Core values are also very good at filtering hires — someone who wrinkles their nose at Deadpool probably won’t fit into our company culture.

But the remarkable thing is something many entrepreneurs may not realize. When they are put into action and lived every day, values create something … more.

An astoundingly engaged workforce. A real team. A community.

When you have a team who will go to the mat for the company and each other, it’s pretty special. And core values light the way.