At a glance

Quick summary

  • Knowing your Business Core Values makes every decision, from logos to colors to copy, much easier
  • This simple exercise will help you identify those Business Core Values

Watch the video

All of the steps are written out below.

But, if you prefer to watch a video, I recorded one which outlines the whole exercise. Check it out!

What you’ll need

1. 30 minutes + 20 minutes

The whole exercise will happen across two sessions: The first will take about 30 minutes; the second will take about 20.

2. A free Notion account

This updated version uses a document I created in Notion.

Click here to create a free Notion account

3. The Big Values List document

I used to do this exercise with a PDF document and an annotation tool. But, it was clunky and inefficient.

As I was updating the exercise, I decided to created a free template in Notion that makes everything way easier.

Grab your copy by clicking the button below!

Exercise: Identify Your Business Core Values

Step 1. Read through all of the steps

Don’t skip this step!

Read through the rest of the steps below so that you’re familiar with what the whole exercise entails.

It’s very simple! But, because things are timed, having a clear picture in your mind about what to do will make things flow more smoothly.

Step 2. Download the Big Values List

If you haven’t already, you’ll need to grab the Big Values List document that I created in Notion.

The original Big Values List is courtesy of Management 3.0!

Step 3. Narrow the list of Values

To begin honing your top Business Core Values, we’ll narrow the list in increments.

Step 3.1. Narrow the list from 250 to 125 (5 minutes)

Set a timer for five minutes.

Then, go through the list and eliminate about half of the values.

You’re crossing out values that don’t resonate with you or your Brand. It’s a gut thing, so trust your instincts.

Key points

  • Don’t linger on any one value. Go with your gut.
  • Stick as closely to the time limit as you can.
  • There are 250 values on the sheet, so you’re aiming to axe 125 in five minutes. This means you’ve got to eliminate one value per 2.4 seconds. Again, don’t linger!
  • If there’s a value that’s important to you, but it’s not there, add it.
  • If there’s a synonym you prefer, change it.

Step 3.2. Narrow the list from 125 to 70 (5 minutes)

Set another five-minute timer.

Of the 125 values that are left, eliminate around half again.

Key points

  • Remember to keep trusting your gut
  • As you narrow the list, you’ll notice that it’ll become harder to eliminate. That’s normal.

Step 3.3. Narrow the list from 70 to 35 (5 minutes)

Five more minutes go on the timer.

This time, you’re narrowing the list to the Top 10.

Key points

  • This is where it’ll start to get a bit trickier. You’re getting closer to values that actually matter to you, and so it’ll become harder to cross them off.
  • At this stage, if you need to tack on an extra minute, I say go for it. But! Keep it to under six minutes, and only add the extra if you really need it.

Step 4. Group the remaining Values (15 minutes)

Now, instead of focusing on eliminating Values, we’ll focus on putting them into groups.

Step 4.1. Look for similarities and patterns

No timer this time! But, I’d expect this to take 10-15 minutes.

Of the 30-40 values left, begin looking for similarities or patterns and start moving them next to each other.

Also, continue eliminating any Values that don’t fit.

Step 4.2. Create five groups of related Values

Keep massaging the list, aiming for five groups.

If you find that you have fewer than five, that’s great!

If you find that you have more than five, I’d recommend trying to narrow your focus a bit more.

Step 4.3. Pick your Top 5 Business Core Values

Once you’ve got all (or most) of the Values sorted into groups, flag the one that best represents that group.

These are you Top 5 (or however many) Business Core Values!

The rest of the Values in each group help describe your Top 5.

Step 5. Take a break

Seriously. This is another step you shouldn’t skip.

After working through the previous steps, your mind will likely be a bit groggy. Mine certainly was.

It’s time to take a break, put this aside, and come back to it a bit later.

I recommend leaving it over overnight, but at least an hour is good too.


By taking a break, you’re giving your mind a chance to process things. You’re letting the ideas simmer for a while on your mental back-burner.

If you’ve ever come back to something you’ve written after taking a break and though, “Wow, this is garbage, I need to fix everything”, this is your mental back-burner at work.

Do yourself a favor and give your mind the chance it needs to process. Your final Business Core Values list will be better!

Step 6. Finalize your Top 5 Business Core Values (20 minutes)

You took a break, right?!

Okay, assuming you have, it’s time to finalize the of Business Core Values.

Go back through your list and review your groups:

  • Make sure Values are in the correct groups
  • Eliminate any that don’t make sense
  • Confirm that the Top 5 you picked are the best they can be

Step 7. Rewrite your Top 5 Business Core Values as Value Statements (optional)

Optionally, you can rewrite your Top 5 as Value Statements.

I use the following framework:

  1. I / We
  2. [Verb]
  3. [Value]

For example, if your Value is Friendly, a Value Statement would be We are friendly!

Or, if the Value is Expertise, the statement could be We are experts.

Courage & Grow’s Business Core Values

We strive to be & do better.

Growth; Efficient; Simple; Process; Systems; Optimized; Purposeful; Creative; Discovery; Resourceful

We are approachable.

Warm; Inviting; Friendly; Helpful; Supportive; Cheerful; Collaborative; Empathetic

We are experts.

Experience; Competence

We are dependable.

Reliable; Trustworthy; Timely

We cultivate belonging.

Courage; Inclusive; Diverse

Now that you have your Business Core Values, let’s identify your Brand Adjectives

Identifying your Business Core Values is an essential first step to honing your brand.

But, sometimes it can be a bit tricky to put those Values to use.

How do you get around this? By using the Values to identify Brand Adjectives. And that’s exactly what we cover in my post How to brainstorm Brand Adjectives with a mind map

Thoughts? Questions?

Have any questions about how to identify your Business Core Values?

Head to the comments section below and let me know!