Purpose: What is Your “Why?”
Defining your purpose is critical. Even though you are taking over the family business, yours is likely very different from your parents’ version. It’s also important because people want to work for an inspired leader with a vision. You need to believe in the business before your managers, employees, and customers believe in you.
Simply put, if you want people to follow you as you build a thriving business, you need to find that purpose as described in my book Goldhill 7P’s Playbook and communicate it to those around you.
Here is a few insights from my book Goldhill 7P’s Playbook
A Purpose Higher Than Profit
Can you articulate what your business does, actually? Here’s a hint – it’s much more than the industry you’re in. You might be engaged in a landscaping business, for example, but what are you really focused on?
Your mission, your purpose, is so much more than the business you’re in. To illustrate what I’m talking about here’s a slightly abridged example taken from the book.
One of my clients, Justin, was getting ready to take over his family’s landscaping business. Founded by his father some decades before, it had grown to a modest level and comfortably supported the family and its 15 employees.
Justin had grown up in the business, but he had interests and ideas that were quite different from his dad’s when he took it over. His father had started the company to support his family while doing something he enjoyed, but Justin was most passionate about business, leadership, and community involvement.
When we started working together, Justin’s initial thoughts on purpose was perhaps to provide a path to citizenship for new immigrants. However, after talking about it, his true purpose became clear.
Justin wanted to raise the bar—not just in the landscaping industry, but within the company itself and out in the community as well. He wanted to improve his employees’ lives, deliver a superior product to his customers, and uplift the community by getting involved in things that mattered to them. That was his real purpose. Everything else flowed from there.
Now, every single business decision is weighed against the purpose, right down to the employees they hire. If it doesn’t align with the purpose, they don’t do it. Their uniformed employees, fleet of vehicles, marketing messages, and all the pro bono work they do in the community raised the bar in their industry and positioned them as leaders.
Are they in the landscape business? Or are they in the business of elevating people and the community? That’s what purpose is all about. You might think initially it’s about making money—and that’s got to be a by-product—but you’ve got to find your why first. Everything else, your longevity, success, the potential for growth, and profitability, hinges on that.
Built to Last
Any business that’s meant to last must have a compelling purpose. Apple, for example, prevailed over its competitors at the time, Gateway and Dell. Apple got the market share because people loved the company. They loved what they stood for. And Apple was very good at making it known exactly what that was.
In building a business that will last and inspire people to follow you, you’ll need to look closely at the founder’s purpose. You might have to reinvigorate it, or you might have to start from scratch with your own.
So how are you going to do it?
People Come First
Consider your people first. No matter how incredible your vision is for the future, you need to gain your employees trust first. Some might feel like you’re overstepping your family legacy and might be resistant to change. You’ll need to prove otherwise, and connect them to your message and vision, showing competence, caring, and character. When you connect with their hearts as well as their minds, they will respect you and follow where you lead.
Scaling up requires a team of people who are as committed to the purpose as you are. When people believe in and are passionate about what they do, few things will get in their way. There’s no question; if you get your people right, you will get all the right things done.
Why is Purpose So Powerful?
Grand visions change attitudes. They inspire action and keep people aligned to a common goal. Much more than that, they also keep the focus on how you plan to achieve those goals. When you have a well-developed vision, it becomes a guide for setting priorities, making decisions and evaluating progress.
The vision statement is future-focused. It provides a big-picture view of where the company is going and where it will be a few years from now. They are also specific enough to support decision-making, both in the short-term and the long-term.
And if that sounds like it would be a lot to cram into a few sentences, check out these mission statements from companies you know and love:
Amazon wants to be Earth’s most customer-centric company, a place where people can come to discover and purchase anything they want to buy online.
Southwest Airlines’ vision is to “become the world’s most loved, most flown, and most profitable airline.”
IKEA’s vision is to make life better for more people by offering well-designed and functional home furniture that almost anybody can afford.
Pretty much sums it up, am I right?
When I work with my clients, their vision statements are a one-page document that looks at short-and-long-term plans for the company and strategy. They include corporate values that reflect what they believe in and outline milestones over time, from 90 days to a year, three years, five years, and so on. They articulate why the business matters and what makes it different. It inspires employees and shareholders alike, demonstrating that the company has goals beyond just making a profit.
What’s Your Vision
For your vision to be alive in the organization, you need to sell it. Communicate it often, share your passion. Share your purpose.
To get started, request access to our Why Worksheet at www.DisruptiveSuccessor.com, and come back next month when we’ll dive deeper into the playbook with Planning.