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In Search of Purpose – Setting A Solid Foundation for Your Business

In general, I believe people are hungry for more meaning in their lives. We’ve been shown over and over again that millennials, in particular, want to do work that aligns with their values, they make purchasing decisions this way as well. But I think there is a wider audience, made up of people in all generations, who want to feel like their work and their actions are making a positive contribution to society, community, family.

We all yearn to be a part of something greater than ourselves – it’s just a standard part of the human experience. I think many entrepreneurs start businesses with this outcome in mind – to contribute their big ideas to make their own, their family’s, and other people’s lives better, but often the drudgery of entrepreneurship can cause a loss of focus, and even the most well-meaning of bosses can forget their Why and just spin out on the How in their business. It’s easy to forget the end goal of net positive improvement when the day-to-day gets overwhelming. Suddenly we’re focused on making a specific dollar amount, or a certain number of sales, or meeting a tight timeline for delivery and we’ve forgotten about the bigger question: “For the sake of what?”

“A purpose mobilizes people in a way that pursuing profits never will.”
— Sherry Hakimi, Sparktures

So, when you think about your business and what excites you and inspires you to get up and get to work everyday, what is that? How can you articulate your unique purpose in a way that inspires others to join your team, to support your movement, to buy your product? And how do you keep that in line of sight when the busy-ness starts to cloud your thinking? If we could take that feeling, that inspiration, and bottle it up, we’d have something really valuable.

Business leaders know that purpose is a transformative lever, and yet, still so few businesses are organized around a strong, catalyzing purpose. Why? Because it’s hard to articulate in a powerful way. It’s easy to intend, but not as easy to take action. So, my purpose over the next couple of years is to help entrepreneurs get in touch with their core purpose: learn to identify it, determine how to tell the story in a compelling way, and take action in integrity with it, so that they can set that foundation for solid and sustainable growth. They will be in a better position to achieve their goals and do so surrounded by a dream team, who will also share in the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve contributed to building something with far-reaching benefits. See how everybody wins, there?

Purpose is the foundation for the conscious creation of the culture you want to build in your organization. So, how can you get clear on your purpose? I’ll be talking more about this in future posts and will offer some free resources in coming weeks to help you figure it out. Meanwhile, you can start by asking yourself the following questions:

  1. What’s my Why? What drives me? What are my values?
  2. If I am successful, what would my ideal world look like?
  3. How will interacting with my product or service make ______ better? (The blank could be my clients’ businesses or my customers’ lives, my community, the world … whatever size impact you would like to have. The sky’s the limit!)

Once you have narrowed down your purpose, we can start to work on how to articulate it in a way that inspires others. But don’t be discouraged if not everybody loves it. As we’ve talked about before – it doesn’t have to be for everybody. In fact, the more narrow your niche at the beginning, the more you are to attract the right customers for you.

It also doesn’t have to be perfect. Just starting somewhere – putting a stake in the ground and saying it out loud is a great place to begin. It might be brilliant or it might sound dumb to you at first, but you’ll never know until you try.

So, what’s your crappy first draft of a purpose statement?? I’d love for you to share. Add it to the comments below, or send it to me in email if you don’t want to share publicly. I’ll be happy to spend some time on it with you!

In search of purpose … until next week!