“Because it’s there.”
That was George Mallory’s classic reply when asked why he wanted to climb Everest. As a business owner, if we were to ask why you chose your particular path, “because it’s there” really won’t cut it. Perhaps it’s because you want to make lots of money, or because you enjoy what you do, or because you want more freedom, or because you want a better world. It doesn’t matter what your purpose is, what does matter is that you’ve got one. A clear one.
Why should it matter that you have a clear purpose? The answer is simple. Purpose is the blue-print for your business. It’s the reason why you exist, and the catalyst for everything you do? If you try to scale a business without purpose it can lead to pain, confusion and a lot of wasted effort. Purpose means clarity and unity. If you have purpose you’ll not only know the direction you’re headed, so will your team and your customers; you’ll be able to clearly evaluate how you’re doing; you’ll grow the business you want and not the one that the market dictates.
What essential ingredients make up purpose?
First and foremost is passion. The average person spends over forty years of their life working. Wouldn’t that life be a whole lot better if you loved what you were doing? The alternative doesn’t bear thinking about – years of putting the alarm clock on snooze, counting the seconds until the weekend, praying that a rail strike will stop you getting to work. Life is too short to spend the majority of it doing something you don’t enjoy.
How do you ensure that your passion and your business go hand in hand? The answer involves a bit of soul-searching. Ask yourself what do you really love doing? What do you feel you should be doing? What would you like to be doing year after year? These aren’t the sort of things we normally ask ourselves as we trudge into work. But we should. By finding that thing you love, that drives you, will not only give you satisfaction, it will give you purpose, it will improve your well-being, it will help you succeed.
The second building block of purpose is service and value. Whatever business you’re in, your customers and clients can always choose between you and someone else. Ask yourself does your purpose add value to your customers so that they’ll not only come to you, they’ll stay with you? If the answer is no, then take a long hard look at your operation. Too many companies come unstuck because their focus isn’t on their customers, it’s on their shareholders. Nowadays customers have more choice than ever before. There are innumerable ways to buy products and services. There are comparison websites. Customers talk endlessly on social media about the businesses they love and hate. The businesses that succeed are those that have a clear purpose and deliver both service and real value.
Third is opportunity. It’s no good having a driving passion for something, if no-one else shares your passion. There has to be a market opportunity, otherwise, you haven’t got a business, you’ve got a hobby. There’s nothing wrong in having a hobby business, but don’t expect to scale up any time soon. A hobby is something you want. A successful business is something your customers want.
Consider the size of your opportunity. How big is the market you’re in, who are you up against, where is it going, how is it changing? Does your service and value help you capitalise on your market? Your purpose not only needs to drive you, it needs to be workable, with enough customers to scale your business.
Fourth – financial rewards. It doesn’t matter whether your goal is modest or a multi-million-pound sell-out, what’s important is that your purpose delivers the right financial reward for you. The pursuit of money doesn’t always have a happy ending, so it’s worth clarifying, what’s really important to you? By having a clear purpose, you can decide the role that money plays. As Robert Kiyosaki, author of Rich Dad, Poor Dad said – “If you work for money, find a way to work and be happy.”
Last, but by no means least, is lifestyle. Ask yourself is your business enriching your life or ruining it? A clear purpose should not only fulfil your passion, it should deliver the lifestyle you want. For this to happen you need tick all four of the boxes above- the passion that drives you, the service and value that makes customers want you, the opportunity that sets you apart from the competition, and the financial reward you’re after.
Too many business owners think that a plan is enough to see them through. But without purpose success will invariably elude you. That’s because purpose goes to the very heart of why your business exists, what it means to you, the team around you and your customers. It dictates where you’re going.
That’s the purpose of business purpose.