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While brand values are critical to any company, they’re especially meaningful for startups. These internal beliefs provide a unifying inspiration for employees, and also appeal to increasingly discerning consumers. But too often, in the rush to get to market, companies overlook the benefits of extending their values into the supply chain and their selection of manufacturing partners. Instead, they accept only the most convenient or readily available options. The truth, however, is that startups actually have more supply chain choices than they realize.
By way of example, let’s look at Patagonia. Since their inception over 40 years ago, they have used a supply chain based on their values. By sticking to their beliefs from the beginning, Patagonia has carved out a unique position in outdoor fashion. Everlane, another clothing company and one of the world’s fastest-growing online retailers, employs “Radical Transparency” to share production information and associated costs with consumers. Both of these companies make supply chain choices based not on what’s convenient, but on what aligns with their company values. Your venture has the same ability.
Bake your values into your products
For startups to have more choice in their supply chain, founders must first do a better of job of clarifying the company’s values. They must have thorough, often tough, conversations with other executives about what truly matters to the company. Is Inclusion & Diversity really a primary value? Integrity? Community? Or are those just lofty words that sounded impressive at the time they were scribbled on the whiteboard?
Clarifying your values provides a number of manufacturing advantages. First, you can now anticipate how these attitudes and beliefs could positively impact a product. Then you can demand that these values become part of the initial product design and manufacturing process. Perhaps most importantly, you now have hardened requirements that — instead of being arbitrary or dictated by time-to-market — reflect what the company believes.
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