The Zappos online shoe company has been a growth phenomenon and the object of many business school case studies. Everyone wants to know what makes them tick and how they have managed to stand out and be so outrageously successful where so many others have failed.
Founder and CEO Tony Hsieh credits the company core values for their success. They capture the heart and soul of the company and define the way associates relate to each other, to their clients, and to the world.
Zappos calls their values – Family Core Values. Everyone in the company knows the values and is accountable to practice them in every aspect of their work. Even the customers know the values because they are included on every web page and shared in other communications to them. Expectations are set.
There is nothing spiritual about what they do. They sell shoes, make money (lots of it), and develop a loyal customer following along the way.
It is instructive to look at their values. Is there anything here that can also apply to your ministry or business?
Zappos commitment: as we grow as a company, it has become more and more important to explicitly define the core values from which we develop our culture, our brand, and our business strategies. These are the ten core values that we live by:
- Deliver WOW through service
- Embrace and drive change
- Create fun and a little weirdness
- Be adventurous, creative, and open-minded
- Pursue growth and learning
- Build open and honest relationships with communication
- Build a positive team and family spirit
- Do more with less
- Be passionate and determined
- Be humble
Many of these are surprisingly biblical and could be applied to a tentmaker on the field.
These may not be the values you want for your business/ministry, but it is important for a tentmaker to take some time and figure out what his values are. A tentmaker needs to have a set of core principles which characterize his work and life.
You may not want to be so ambitious. Start with 2 – 4 biblical guiding principles or values that you want to characterize your ministry. Find ways to integrate them into your everyday activities. It should not be something that is added on to what you are doing but something that is blended into what you are already doing. Demonstrate Christ’s love naturally through the way you interact with others.
In the case of Zappos we are looking at a company, so one might think the principle only applies to tentmakers doing business as mission. Actually, it can also help an employee tentmaker be more focused on the purpose for being a tentmaker and help in evaluating his own effectiveness.
By focusing on a few core values the tentmaker will have stronger relationships and show a consistent message.