To Create an Underlying Social Mission, Focus on the 3S's

The greatest stamina for any entrepreneur comes from life purpose, and building a movement around your startup can be the difference between failure and breakout success.

learn more about Nick Unsworth

By Nick Unsworth


Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Everybody has a story. Throughout my 20s, I was a workaholic. I was never present, and my dream was to sell my business. It wasn't until I achieved my goal and made lots of money that I realized that this kind of success didn't make me happy. In fact, it made me miserable.

This experience -- and hiring an amazing business coach -- helped me figure out what I wanted my new story to be. I wanted to love what I did for a living, and I wanted to help others do the same.

This was the spark that ignited my business's unique movement, which is exactly what your startup needs for runaway success.

Plus, having a deeper meaning also appeals to consumers: People want to buy from companies with a purpose they can rally behind. In fact, with price and quality being equal, 91 percent of consumers would switch to a brand associated with a good cause, according to a 2013 report conducted by Cone Communications/Echo Global CSR.

Related: Do Good or Make Money? Why It's Not Even a Question.

If TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie had simply tried to start a shoe company, he might have failed miserably. Instead, he decided to donate a pair of shoes to a child in need for every pair sold and customers rallied behind the cause. Now the company has expanded its offerings to include eyewear and coffee.

When you build a movement around your startup, it leads to a legacy that's much more meaningful than any amount of money. And to create a movement, you need to uncover your 3S's: your story, your stance and your strategy.

1. Tell your story.

Businessman and philanthropist Adam Braun was on a volunteer trip in India when he asked a little boy what he wanted most in the world. The boy's answer, "a pencil," is the story behind Pencils of Promise, a global movement that has helped 30,000 students.

When I started my Facebook advertising company, I failed to create a movement because the business was just about making money and helping others do the same. It had no emotional trigger. It was only when I tapped into the sadness I felt after I sold the company that I reached a turning point.

Each of us has a story about that turning point -- a time when something gave us a sudden jolt or an awakening that helped us understand what truly matters.

Discover what that moment was for you, and craft a clear story that explains how your past experiences connect to your present-day passions.

2. Clarify your stance.

Develop a stance that's so clear it could be summed up in one or two sentences. My stance was that other entrepreneurs didn't need to sell a business to be happy -- they could be happy today. Your stance on an issue should be so strong that no amount of money in the world could make you change that belief.

Related: Adrian Grenier: To Succeed, Entrepreneurs Must Have a Social Mission

3. Choose your strategy.

Create a strategy for making other people care about your stance. For me, this involved starting my company, but it might mean spreading the message on YouTube, iTunes or a blog.

Give people something to talk about and rally a community before you try to sell anything. The KONY 2012 campaign all started with a short film designed to make an obscure war criminal notorious. More than 100 million people watched the film in six days, and nearly 4 million pledged their support. The more people you can get talking about your movement, the faster it will spread.

The greatest stamina for any entrepreneur comes from life purpose, and building a movement around your startup can be the difference between failure and breakout success. The 3S strategy changed my life, and it can change yours, too.

Related: You Can Do Good by Doing Well, If You Pick the Right Social Enterprise Model

Nick Unsworth

CEO of Life On Fire

Nick Unsworth is CEO of Life On Fire, a business coaching company located in San Diego, Calif.

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