Do you know who you are doing business with? In most cases you might not know what a company's values are because they don't publish them. Or if they do, they certainly don't follow them (e.g.: Do No Evil - Google).
Well, we just finished building out Our Values page on our website which includes not only our Company Values but also our Mission, a Commitment to our Customers, and a message from me.
It goes without saying that it is important to have values both personally and professionally. Like the old saying (or song?) goes: “You’ve got to stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything”.
As the original founder and CEO of AmmoSquared, my personal values are heavily reflected in our company culture. I’ve hired every one of our employees and will continue to do so for the foreseeable future so I can have a direct hand in the culture of AmmoSquared. I'm proud of the culture we've built and believe in our company values.
So what are those values?
We have three main value “themes” and three others that are internal which I chose not to put on the website because they are more employee focused, but I'll share them here.
Here is what we value as a company:
- America and the US Constitution
- Personal Freedom and Responsibility
- Honesty and Transparency
- Innovation and Experimentation
- Respect for Traditional Values
Patriotism, America and the US Constitution
In case you haven’t noticed from the giant American flag in our warehouse photos, we’re very Pro-America at AmmoSquared! I love this country and still believe that it is one of the greatest countries on the planet, and could be argued, in all of history. However I would say, like many proud Americans, I don’t agree with the direction it has taken. I’m also like many of you, when I say that I believe we need to turn this ship around and get back to what made us great otherwise, to put it bluntly: our country is toast.
Personally, I’m also a constitutional “originalist” (it is NOT a “living” document that changes with the times!). Our founding fathers were classically educated and very well read. They were certainly smarter than any of us. They knew what they were doing when they crafted the Constitution. Except in very rare instances, it shouldn’t be messed with. When it is amended it should be such a non-controversial thing that it is obvious like allowing women to vote or establishing term limits for Congress (yes we really need those now!).
In my opinion, anything that limits the government’s power and reach is a good thing and anything that expands it is bad. I have a plaque in my office that sums up how I feel about the government: “When the government fears the people there is freedom, when the people fear the government, there is tyranny.”
Personal Responsibility and Freedom
That saying directly leads into our second set of values: Personal Responsibility and Freedom. As gun owners we prioritize this value higher than many other people. We understand the correlation between FREEDOM and RESPONSIBILITY - you can’t have one without the other. For example, my middle daughter recently learned to drive. As any parent will tell you, your child needs to exhibit increasing levels of responsibility before you’ll allow them the freedom to go wherever they want. If they make a poor judgment call, you correct them and give them the opportunity to do it better in the future. If they don’t, well, they lose some of the freedoms they had - in our case we can prohibit the use of our car.
The equation changes when you are talking about adults. I’m a huge believer that adults can make their own decisions about right and wrong and don’t need a nanny state telling them what to do. We saw this a lot with the recent scamdemic. The governments of the world used fear to coerce people into doing things they didn’t want to do. They took away personal responsibility and freedom and replaced it with fear and coercion.
As adults, we have the freedom to do what we want, but we suffer the consequences of that action. If an action doesn’t directly harm someone else then it should be permitted. The Golden Rule solves a lot of questions of personal interaction and whether you should do something: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” We live this value at AmmoSquared but in a business sense. Would I want a company to treat me this way? If the answer is yes, then okay. If not, then we don’t do it. This also hits on our third set of company values.
Transparency and Honesty
I believe there is only one way to do business, conduct it with transparency and honesty. In our business especially, we need to earn your trust. We do that by being upfront with everything we do. We don’t do things strictly for the “bottom line” but take into account how our customers would react with every decision we make. We're transparent and honest with the actions we take.
Yes, sometimes I do have to make hard decisions in the interest of the company that might not be in the interest of a small number of customers (discontinuing certain products comes to mind here). But if it violated our company value of honesty and transparency we wouldn’t do it. Part of earning our customers’ trust is by being open about everything. That means the good stuff and sometimes the bad (like our run in with the “money transmitter law” and the changes we have to make to the site). It irks me when I see companies that include "fine print" or nickel and dime their customers. Or those businesses that embrace the motto "caveat emptor" (buyer beware). That will never be us.
In addition to those three company values, we also have other values that weren’t added to the website because these are more employee focused. But in the spirit of transparency, I’ll share them here as well…
Innovation and Experimentation
The recent changes to the site reminded me of the value we have around Innovation and Experimentation. We tend to put a lot of new stuff out there but everything isn’t always a success so we need to revert or change it. This was the case with the AmmoSquared Wallet and our AmmoSquared Pay - for legal reasons we needed to revert back to more of an ecommerce focus and less of a “bank” focus. That’s fine, I still love that we innovated with ammunition in that way. If we decide in the future we want to take that route again, we’ll go through the necessary red tape and make it happen. When you operate a company like this, you do need to check your ego at the door because it isn’t always easy to publicly announce that you are backtracking on a feature.
This is where humility comes in...
I added “Humility” to the list because I try to live it daily. This is the opposite of what you see in business today. Instead, most CEOs and entrepreneurs today appear to have HUGE egos. They can’t admit they made a mistake because they are never wrong. That is dangerous in my opinion. We’re all humans and we all make mistakes. Having humility as a personal virtue is the act of saying, "I’m NOT the center of the universe" and "Yes I’m imperfect, I make mistakes". I believe it also allows us to act as a team better. There is no “superstar” we’re all just doing our jobs and each of us has a role in the success of the company. I have worked for entrepreneurs whose ego could fill an entire room. They had all the answers and didn’t listen to their direct reports. It set a dangerous path that ultimately led to disaster.
Respect for Traditional Values
The last value might be a bit controversial in today’s landscape but that is exactly why I believe it is needed. Respect for the moral framework and traditional values that have historically been the bedrock of this country and what, I believe, made us great. We are a Christian nation and deviating too far from that moral compass is dangerous. When we start believing that “truth is relative” and “it takes a village to raise a child” we’re one step away from a communist tyranny or something from the book 1984. In that book, only the “state” mattered, there are no families, and personal relationships are forbidden and only necessary to produce offspring that will serve the state.
Traditional values encourage us to educate our children in right and wrong, give them a strong moral compass, encourage a strong work ethic, and teach them real history so they’ll know which side to be on when Big Brother comes knocking.
That is important for all of us, but especially for owners and employees of an ammunition service!