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What is Your Business Philosophy?

Updated on February 21, 2019
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Heidi Thorne is an author and business speaker specializing in sales and marketing topics for coaches, consultants, and solopreneurs.


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.

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.

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.

Do you have a business philosophy?

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How About You?

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

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

© 2014 Heidi Thorne


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