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What is Your Business Philosophy?

Updated on November 23, 2014
heidithorne profile image

Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.

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I'm 21 and I'm applying for my first job in the hospitality industry. I head into the interview with my prospective boss. Seemed like a positive, energetic guy. So far so good. Then he asked me a question that I had never been asked in an interview (and have never been asked in an interview since):

"What is your business philosophy?"

What? I'm 21 years old and I'm supposed to have a philosophy, business or otherwise? Okay, I realize this is one of those "think on your feet" "Miss America pageant" type of questions. Here's how I instinctively and immediately responded:

"If I do my job to the best of my ability, everyone else can do their jobs to the best of their abilities."

I didn't get that job immediately. But I did get promoted to it later after accepting another position at the company. This was a pivotal career job that launched my sales and marketing career. I learned a lot from that experience and the boss who asked that off the wall question (as well as his successor).

But you know what the really interesting thing about this story is? That response really IS my business philosophy that has been woven into every single aspect of my professional career, from sales to teaching to writing. If I do what I do (whatever that job is at the moment) to the absolute best, I've been able to help students, clients and readers do their own jobs and run their businesses more effectively, efficiently and enjoyably.

There must be something to this whole business philosophy thing.

Questions for Looking More Thoughtfully at Business and Life

Philosophically Misaligned

So what happens when a company behaves, hires people or takes on business partners out of sync with their business philosophy? Nothing gets accomplished or it's a disaster.

Take this example. Say that a company holds a philosophy of "We treat our customers like dear friends and family." The company then hires a salesperson who believes "Get while the gettin's good." The company holds their customers in high regard and likely develops long-term relationships, whereas the new hire is looking for what he can sell to customers right now because the opportunity may not be there tomorrow. These are definitely out of sync and could cause difficulties for everyone. The company may start losing customers since they are now being treated with much less regard than before. The salesperson could be frustrated by all the TLC that the company requires.

We all bring our personal philosophies to our business dealings. Especially for small business owners and entrepreneurs, business and personal philosophy could be entwined into one. Doing some soul searching on alignment between the business and personal worlds can help create more satisfaction and reduce the stress that comes from operating out of alignment with one's values.

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Do you have a business philosophy?

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Is a Business Philosophy the Same as Vision, Mission or Values?

A business philosophy is not the same as a company's vision, mission and values, although it is often the driving force behind all of them and it must be in alignment with them, too.

A company's vision is a description of an ideal future that they hope to obtain from their efforts. A mission is a description of what the company does to make that vision possible.

Philosophy and values are more directly related, but there is even a distinction between them. Values are the ideals and principles which are important to a company. Philosophy could be described as what a company believes and how it conducts itself in the world. For example, if one of a company's highest values is honesty, they may hold a philosophy of "honesty is the best policy."

Is Business Philosophy the Same as a Tagline?

Just as a business philosophy is not the same as a company's vision, mission and values, a company's tagline is not essentially the same as its business philosophy, although it could be.

Probably the best example of a business philosophy as a tagline is Apple. Their "Think Different" tagline is truly how they conduct themselves on many levels. The innovations they created by thinking differently have changed the world and have established them as one of the most innovative brands.

How About You?

Do you have a business philosophy? How has it affected you and your business? Share with us in Comments!

Disclaimer: Any examples used are for illustrative purposes only and do not suggest affiliation or endorsement. The author/publisher has used best efforts in preparation of this article. No representations or warranties for its contents, either expressed or implied, are offered or allowed and all parties disclaim any implied warranties of merchantability or fitness for your particular purpose. The advice, strategies and recommendations presented herein may not be suitable for you, your situation or business. Consult with a professional adviser where and when appropriate. The author/publisher shall not be liable for any loss of profit or any other damages, including but not limited to special, incidental, consequential, or other damages. So by reading and using this information, you accept this risk.

© 2014 Heidi Thorne

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  • heidithorne profile image
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    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Hi Kevin/The Examiner-1! Yep, lots of people aren't aware of this concept. Glad you found it helpful. Thanks so much for your support and sharing! Have a great weekend!

  • The Examiner-1 profile image

    The Examiner-1 3 years ago

    This was very informative Heidi. I have never heard that before either. About the only business which I can say that I am in is here in HP since I have ads but I will definitely look into this. I voted this up, shared and pinned it. Thank you.

    Kevin

  • heidithorne profile image
    Author

    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    That is so true, FlourishAnyway! There can be a large chasm between what people say they are and what they really are. It doesn't hurt to have aspirational ideals. But philosophy is something one must live every single day starting today. Thanks so much for adding that insight to the conversation! Have a great evening!

  • heidithorne profile image
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    Heidi Thorne 3 years ago from Chicago Area

    Yep, billybuc, you got that right! I'm going to guess that most can't answer this question... let alone say they've even thought about it. It's a great mental and spiritual exercise for writers (and everyone else, too). Thanks for stopping by and have a terrific evening!

  • FlourishAnyway profile image

    FlourishAnyway 3 years ago from USA

    Often businesses don't know themselves and adopt philosophies that are aspirational rather than descriptive. It's so important to get the calibration right.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

    I wonder how many writers can answer this question? As you and I both know, there is a large percentage of writers who haven't figured out that they own a business. :)