Earning and growing profits are essential to the success of any business, but why stop there when identifying a larger purpose can help you attract and keep the right employees, customers and vendors and maybe even change the world?
How does your business contribute? Regardless of which industry you’re in or what tasks your workday is filled with, there are plenty of opportunities to use your talent to make a difference.
Having a clear sense of purpose beyond profit helps to attract people that share your purpose and repel those who don’t. That expedites alignment by ensuring everyone is rowing in the same direction and that means you can achieve your Vision faster.
The purpose is about having an impact beyond making money for you, your employees and investors. It could be slashing prices of a product or service to empower consumers or help small businesses stretch their dollar. It could be about pioneering a greener supply chain or making it easier for entrepreneurs to raise capital. It could be about helping employees reach their full potential and build wealth by providing 100 percent reimbursement for college tuition and an employee stock option plan. It does not have to be about supporting non-profits and charity.
My purpose at The Profit Recipe, for instance, is to Empower leaders so that they can live life by design. That is not a charitable cause. It’s simply a purpose that transcends making a living and has the potential to change the lives of my clients and those around them.
That’s the plot twist: aligning your business vision with purpose instead of profit increases your likelihood of success from both a personal and financial standpoint.
The benefits of a clear Why
The vast majority of people want to contribute to something greater than themselves; no one’s life purpose is to make the owner of some faceless corporation wealthy. However, people do feel fulfilled when they’re doing good work, i.e., work that feels like it’s making a difference in the world. Employees also feel more loyalty to their company when the relationship is a positive one where they share the same core values and vision.
The philosophy of work is changing. In the past, you clocked in, performed your tasks, took your lunch hour and went home. The company’s goals rarely wavered from hitting end-of-the-quarter sales or earnings targets, which failed to inspire many employees.
Having a purpose is particularly important when it comes to attracting younger talent. A recent report by American Express, Redefining the C-Suite: Business the Millennial Way, discovered that for Millennials, it’s a priority for businesses to have a genuine purpose, want to make a difference in the world, or have values that closely align with their own. Over one-third of survey respondents said they would be willing to lower expectations around responsibilities at work and/or career advancement goals to work with a business interested in making an impact.
According to a 2010 report by Ph.D. Brent D. Rosso, finding meaning in one’s work has been shown to increase motivation, engagement, empowerment, career development, job satisfaction, individual performance, and personal fulfillment while decreasing absenteeism and stress. That’s powerful.
The Power of Purpose
So, having satisfied, engaged employees working towards a common goal is an obvious win, but that same mindset applies to your customers. In a world where we feel stretched thin and incapable of affecting change, the allure of contributing to a greater good through patronage is appealing. In fact, 91 percent of customers said they’d switch to a purpose-driven company if they were offered similar products in terms of price and quality. Likewise, 71 percent would actively help promote a brand if they believed it supported a worthy cause.
People want to invest in purpose-driven products and services, whether with their time or money. Doing good work is good for business.
As Simon Sinek, author and speaker of one of the most watched TED talks of all time, says, “Profit isn’t a purpose. It’s a result. To have a purpose means the things we do are of real value to others.”
To identify and solidify your company’s purpose, sit down with your leadership team and ask questions like:
- Why are we in business?
- Why are we who we are today?
- Why are we good at what we do?
- What do people say about us?
- What are we great at?
- How could our talents benefit our community?
Compile the results into one short mission-driven statement that defines your company’s purpose. Once you find that, your next task is to kick-off your new path to purpose by finding ways to ensure it resonates with both employees and consumers.
For example, engage in a company-wide activity that illustrates your purpose and benefits the community. Create continuity by reiterating your purpose at team meetings and throughout your company collateral. Let your purpose be the core of everything your company does, from the smallest of tasks to the greatest outcomes.
Making work meaningful creates loyalty, sets your business apart in a positive way and allows you, your employees, vendors, customers, and other partners to change the world while benefiting your bottom line.