Purpose is just one of the building-blocks for any business that hopes to be in business for the lang-haul... albeit a super-important one.
Much like building a house, there are certain elements that every business should contain, just like all houses should have foundations, walls, windows and a roof.
And like a house, it makes 'sense' to tackle these in a certain order; don't build walls before you've poured the slab.
If you need convincing about the Elements and their inter-dependence, that's what I've attempted to do in a short presentation here.
One of the first - if not THE first - elements I urge you consider is your Business Purpose.
The PURPOSE of PURPOSE
No matter what your business does, there will always be competitors that claim to do it better, faster, and cheaper. It’s not enough to yell the same old hackneyed claims about why your product or service is better than the competition.
If you want to be remarkable, you have to show your audience that your company is more than just a profit-seeking machine.
Your brand needs (and deserves) something more. It needs a Purpose.
You want to connect to a cause that’s bigger than you are, but which is also congruent with who you are and what you care about.
It’s not about what you sell, it’s about what you believe.
A clear and compelling Purpose will enable you to relate to your audience in ways that get them to choose your company over your competition. And it will draw-in the talent that will help you thrive.
In short, it should drive everything you do.
You HAVE a Purpose, even if you can't articulate it yet
If you dig deep enough, you will find the *real* reason you are in the business you are in.
You might be surprised to find it's not to make money (or at least not just for that). After-all, you could probably make more money working for someone else, perhaps running their company, or sitting behind a screen in your pyjamas day-trading on the stock exchange... but you don't.
Rather, you've chosen to serve a group of people... providing something that makes their lives 'better'... in some way.
This is as true if you're renting whitegoods as it is if you're running a charity. Trust me... there's something compelling at the core of who you are and what you do.
And it is sooo worth digging deep to find this...
WHAT EXACTLY 'IS' PURPOSE?
Most of us have heard of the NASA cleaner who, when asked what he did there, said "I'm putting a man on the moon!". Whether it's true or apocryphal, that's an awesome sense of purpose that has obviously permeated the entire organisation.
Everyone, including that cleaner, was 100% committed to that inspiring Purpose. Everyone understood that their contribution, no matter how seemingly-minor, was indeed an important and valued piece of the jigsaw they were assembling.
So-too with your business. EVERYONE there plays their role. But do they know what they're working-toward? Do they see - as clearly as this NASA cleaner - how their efforts are critical to that outcome? And do they feel appropriately valued for their contribution?
Another example? How about something local:
I recently attended a presentation by The H Factor, where Robyn Moyle shared the story of a client struggling to pin-point their Purpose... to answer the question "WHY do you do what you do?".
Below is my dodgy - and paraphrased - recollection of that story.
The client's first answer: "I don't know, there's no big mystery, we just fell into this business. We just rent white-goods and appliances!"
When asked WHO they rented to: "Well, mostly young families I guess".
When asked WHY those young families rented from them: "Many are single-parents who have an income, but find it hard to save-up for big purchases, or something breaks-down and they can't afford to replace it".
WHY is it important for them to have the things you rent?: "Well, some of it is just critical for their health and well-being... you-know, fridges and stuff. But even the other things like TVs are important too... I remember when I grew up, we didn't have a TV at home, and because I was embarrassed about that I didn't invite friends home. I think maybe I missed-out on deepening those relationships... and I don't want other kids to go through that, and I don't want their mums to feel powerless to do anything about it!".
Wow! So it wasn't about white-goods at all... it was about 'agency'... giving vulnerable families a sense of control over this one important aspect of their lives. It was about helping parents create a home environment in which their kids could be healthy, happy, and socially engaged!
Let's ask her again... "What do you do?":
"We help parents create a home environment in which their kids can be healthy, happy, and socially engaged!"
What a compelling sense of Purpose!
Slightly more powerful than 'I rent white-goods', yes?
How do you think this new insight affected how their drivers and office-staff felt about coming to work each day? Their sense of self-worth? Their level of commitment?
Do you think this flowed-through into their marketing, and how they 'related' to their customers?
And when it came time to expand, do you think it was easier to find people who were a strong 'fit' with the team?
A word of warning. Don't even *think* about just making something up here... it will bite you in the backside!
People are drawn to what's 'genuine' and repulsed by fakery. And their bullsh*t detectors are on high-alert in this marketing-obsessed world we inhabit.
Just. Do. The. Work.
Trust me, not-only do I know that your compelling Purpose is actually there, I know that it will be worth every bit of effort you put into discovering it.
It can be tough teasing-out your Purpose by yourself. There are things inside you that you've probably never tried to put into words before. It's emotional rather than logical... and as a rule we tend to shunt emotions aside when wearing our 'business' hats.
If you want some help with this, I can heartily recommend the team at The H Factor, who approach this task with a degree of sensitivity and insight not often seen in the business world.
If you want to have a crack at this yourself, here are some questions you can ask yourself:
(From The H Factor:)
Who do you serve?
What do they want or need from you?
What do they REALLY want or need from you? (think about the emotional needs you fulfil, not in terms of your products/services)
In what ways does what you do make a difference to society?
What have you felt most proud-of?
(From Jim Collins, Built to Last)
Why does our organization’s existence matter?
What is our most important reason for being here? Why?
What would be lost if this organization ceased to exist?
Why are we important to the people we serve?
Why would anyone dedicate their precious time, energy, and passion to our company? (Note: the answer is not money.)
(From Mark Di Somma, The Blake Project):
When you started your business, what did you see that you wanted to change?
How can the pursuit of that change make a bigger difference?
What change do others want to see in the world? How does your brand fit in?
WRAPPING IT ALL UP
I hope you have a sense of how powerful - and important - this work of uncovering your deeper Purpose truly is.
Knowing - really knowing - your Purpose will centre you, will make it easier to make decisions, will make it easier to attract and engage the people who will help your business thrive, and will act as a magnet to the people you want to do business with.
I wish you every success on your journey :-)
* Glen Head is the Chief Navigator with the LeaderZone, and committed to helping your business be the best it can be... because that brings meaning to the lives of your people and customers... and that's why he gets out of bed each morning! You can connect via LinkedIn or by reaching-out in the comments below.