Thursday, 23 February 2012

Discover your business purpose

If you are setting up a business or are already in business and not sure that you have a clear purpose here are some thoughts on how to discover it. We say discover, because the "why you exist" is inherent in your organisation. You may not be aware of it or you may be painfully aware of it but have moved away from your core purpose due to market, competitive or financial pressures.

1. Involve everyone in your business

Often the pressure to make money, find new customers and stay in business can blur the very purpose of your organisation.  The people working at the coal face, who deal with customers or handle your products and services on a day to day basis can have a clearer view of what the business is about. In addition your people are an inextricable part of your current and future business. Involving them in discovering your business purpose ensures alignment, commitment and motivation to deliver it. 

2. Ask some questions

·         What do we stand for?
·         Why do we exist?
·         What change do we want to make? (to people, the market, the planet, society)
·         What problem do we solve?
·         What values inspire the way we work?
·         What do we want to be remembered for?

·         What are we proud of? 

3. Articulate it emotionally

There will be a theme that emerges from asking questions. Write it down. Make it as emotionally engaging as possible.

4. Test it

·         Does it have substance and meaning? 
·         Is it inspiring to those inside the company?
·         Will it be valid 100 years from now?
·         Is it authentic to your company/brand?

5. Make it Live!
Many organisations have mission statements (essentially an expression of purpose). But if your mission statement sits on the wall, in the bottom draw of people’s desks, or is plastered on mugs and screen savers without being demonstrated in all that you do, it is simply a platitude. Organisations that really embrace their purpose don’t have to write it on the wall for people to remember. It is part of the very fibre of the organisation, implicit in activities and processes of the company and the behaviour of the people.  To get to this level everyone needs to continually focus on how their decisions, activity and contribution fit with the business purpose.  

You may be wondering - How is purpose different from value proposition? You are right in thinking they are inextricably linked. Your value proposition is the demonstration of the thing that you do best and the benefit that you deliver which solves a customer problem. The purpose of your business is the why behind your value proposition. You can therefore have 2 companies with the same or similar purpose but who deliver their value proposition in very different ways. 

Photo by: Gematrium

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