“Because it’s there.”
That was George Mallory’s classic reply when asked why he wanted to climb Everest. Now, 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 build a business without purpose it can lead to pain, confusion and wasted effort. Purpose equals clarity. 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 are the essential ingredients that 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 going to work. Life is too short to spend the majority of it doing something you don’t enjoy.
But how do you ensure that your passion and your business go hand in hand? Having passion for what you do is vital not just for your business, but for your wellbeing. Ask yourself what do you really love doing? What do you feel you should be doing? These are not 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, it will not only give you satisfaction, it will give you purpose, 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 service 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. But nowadays customers have more choice than ever before. There are many different 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 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 be in the Footsie 100 any time soon. A hobby is something you want. A successful business is something customers want.
Look closely at your market space. 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? And finally, ask does your service and value help you capitalise on your market? Only by understanding all of these can you begin to reap the benefits of the next building block of purpose- financial rewards.
It doesn’t matter whether your goal is modest or a multimillion pound sell-out, what is 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 is 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 to ensure that you’ve ticked 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 that you’re after.
Too many businesses think that a plan is enough to see them through. But without purpose success will invariably elude them. That’s because purpose goes to the very heart of why your business exists, what it means to you and your customers, and where it’s going.
That’s the purpose of Purpose.