Purpose has been an ideology that every entrepreneur and business person tries to define for their company. In a lot of cases, business owners confuse activity for achievement and hard work for purpose.
A company that doesn’t have a well defined purpose usually has people that are confused as to why they are there. I’ve visited companies where you can feel the sense of purpose as soon as you hit the door. I’ve also experienced ones where I had no idea what their declaration was.
Purpose vs. Strategy
So how businesses define purpose? The common answers, which are not answers, are lowest cost, best quality, best service and so on. But those statements will not have a lasting effect in the minds of customers or employees. Purpose is a philosophy that resonates through every area in the business and is the guiding force for all activities of the company, right down to how the bathrooms looks. The best quote I’ve heard in describing purpose is;
An effective purpose reflects the importance people attach to the company’s work-it taps their idealistic motivations and gets at the deeper reasons for an organization’s existence beyond just making money.
Fantastically put! If that’s a word.
It’s amazing to see how businesses mistake strategy for purpose. Strategy is a combination of tactics that achieve a goal. Purpose is an intersection. Its where your company ideology and the needs of your customers cross paths.
My favorite company with a strong brand purpose is Whole Foods. The company oozes purpose! This is how Co-founder John Mackey defines Whole Foods purpose. Which he refers to as their “Heroic Purpose”.
1) Help the agricultural system evolve and become more responsible.
2) Help people reach their highest health potential.
3) Conscience capitalism.
You notice that the following were missing, increase sales, increase profits, improve valuation and this is because their purpose is aligned with the customers they serve and the employees that carry it out. The money part is the product of great purpose. Love them!
Expressing Your Purpose
Understanding how to articulate your purpose will be the single most important factor in people adopting it. Purpose starts inward and moves its way out to your customers. Instinctively your customers should relate to your purpose and it should be integrated in every facet of your business, so your purpose rings consistently in the minds of your audience.
Keys To Writing Your Purpose
1) Keep it simple.
2) Keep it focused.
3) Focus on what you stand for.