Every business, especially a new one, should have a clear and succinct expression of its purpose -- its reason for being beyond the products it makes or the services it provides. A great example comes from Whole Foods, which states its purpose simply as “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet."
There are five reasons why having such a purpose is imperative:
1. Purpose for yourself
Life is too short and too important to simply punch a time-clock, even if you’re the business owner. At some point in your career there will come a morning when you’ll awake and ask yourself, “What am I really doing?” It’s at this point that earning money by making/selling whatever will no longer be motivation enough. However, if your answer to that question reflects a specific, greater purpose, you’ll have the energy and inspiration to continue, not just that day, but for the rest of your life.
2. Purpose for your employees
Your employees, or your coworkers, are no different than you. They also want to feel that they are contributing to a greater good -- something more meaningful than satisfying job requirements and earning a paycheck. What’s different for them, though, is that unlike a business owner, they may not have an innate sense of what the business’s purpose is.
It’s up to you to articulate that purpose clearly, not only so any individual can claim it, but also so the entire organization is of one mind, moving in the same direction for the same reason.
3. Purpose for your customers
Will people buy your products just because your business serves a greater purpose? Generally not. Most people need to realize specific, tangible benefits from their purchases. Provided that utility is met, however, many consumers, such as millennials and gen-Yers, are eager to support organizations that look beyond their bottom lines to the needs of others. When they can, purpose-driven people will vote with their dollars for purpose-driven businesses.
4. Purpose for your community
Your community may be the small town or the large city in which your business operates. Increasingly, our communities are our nation and our world, both of which need a lot of help. In many ways, business represents the best way to bring about significant change in those communities. While the economic engine of any business can help, a purpose-driven business multiplies that influence in ways that are much more far-reaching and impactful.
5. Purpose for your (fill in the blank)
You fill in the blank. Every person has some other reason, beyond the four just given, for wanting to fulfill a greater purpose. For some it’s their faith. For others, it’s fulfilling a promise to a family member or friend, or to investors. It also may be a commitment to a special cause. No matter what the specific motive, there’s likely at least one other very compelling reason for pursuing business purpose.