Gaining an edge on your competition requires firm values that drive you, your team and your mission. Blend those elements together and nothing will get in your way.

What springs to mind when you hear the word “edge”? I’ll bet it’s something powerful; something that helps you beat the other guy. There’s a reason why so many of us entrepreneurs admire Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War”: we’re in business to win.

The book may be 2,500 years old, but its philosophy is timeless – the biggest battle is with yourself. You’ve got to know your own army and understand your opponents to beat the competition. The strategies of self-knowledge and all your troops fighting the same battle are more valuable today than ever.

As an entrepreneur, it boils down to this: get your values into focus and your edge will appear. It brings everything into alignment – yourself, your team and your mission. From there, your edge is how you connect with your customers and carve out a competitive advantage.

Powerful values equal to powerful companies

Everyone in business has heard the term “values” thrown around. Some entrepreneurs even have a vague idea of what the idea means in practice.

I simplified this contested concept in my previous blog and emphasized how your values must be discovered, explored and put into action to reach the next level. Values are the real deal. They’re not a superficial, shallow set of ideas. I know because I live my life and run my businesses by my own values, and my personal approach mirrors a method that’s gathering steam in every country and across every business model.

Last year, the PricewaterhouseCoopers Global Family Business Survey zeroed in on the vital importance of values for businesses all over the world. They surveyed 2,953 companies in sectors ranging from agriculture to technology.

I took note of six key points:

  • 75 percent of companies believe their values gave them a competitive edge
  • 84 percent of businesses who enjoyed a 10 percent annual growth (or even more than that) had a clear consensus of core values and a shared purpose
  • One of the major challenges which businesses expect to face over the next two years is accessing the right skills and abilities
  • Only 55 percent of businesses had a strategic plan about where to go next
  • The accelerating changes in how business is conducted are making values an indispensable bedrock for companies to base decisions on
  • Only 49 percent of companies had articulated their values in writing

Point 1, 2 and 6 speak for themselves but look at the ones in-between. Companies are concerned that they’ll be unable to activate the right talents and skill sets. This isn’t a worry my clients have. I’ve covered how you can leverage your values to hire the people you need.

Next, we see that just over half of businesses even have a plan. This lack of strategy comes directly from not understanding your core values. You can’t know where to go if you don’t who you are. The fifth point is the major one. How business is conducted in a rapidly-developing world is changing so fast that the only things you can count on to stay solid are your values.

The report underlines a belief I hold deeply: values are the difference between a confident, well-matched team with a plan, and the companies who are scared and lacking direction. Values are your advantage. Values are your edge. The rest of the report highlights the greatest ally your values have…and that’s your purpose.

Values AND purpose are the ultimate edge

Your business can become a force to be reckoned with by uniting your purpose with your values. Here’s how I see the purpose and a list of key questions you must ask to find out what yours is. Your purpose must be what matters to you on the other side of profit. What value can your employees, your customers, and your community get out of who you are?

I don’t have to tell you that every employee is an ambassador for your brand. To keep them happy, what they do has to matter. Aligning values and purpose has three major benefits, one of which is increased employee satisfaction (the others are better customer relations and a greatly improved public image). A job can be more than just work; it can be something everyone in the company believes in. Balancing this passion with purpose can be a tough task and it’s one I broke down to understanding the Three P’s.

Values have always been adhesive for any successful business. The PwC report shows how values are increasingly central to future global success. Don’t be one of the lost companies. You can get a firm grip on this values-based future by gaining traction in your business today.

Cesar Quintero is the founder of The Profit Recipe, a coaching firm that helps entrepreneurs implement traction and live life by design. Schedule your appointment with Cesar today to learn more on how to give your business the edge.