Why does your company exist? To make people’s lives better in some way. To help society through innovation or convenience. To provide something others don’t. Whatever the reason, the driving purpose behind your company is one of the most valuable things you have as a business.
Fortune 500 companies spend millions of dollars on consultants and ad agencies to help them discover their ‘purpose’ in the world. Nowadays it’s often to make them appear green, or to show their involvement with charitable causes. But a small business has the inside track, because it can define it’s purpose from the start with authenticity.
Your purpose is the ‘why?’ of your business, the reason it exists beyond making a profit. It’s the foundation that many great, innovative, world-class businesses are built on. Apple exists to help you ‘Think different’, Nike exists to help you ‘Just Do It’, to get out their and run your heart out.
With the rise of conscious consumerism, a growing number of small businesses are built with a social cause embedded in their brands, and even their business models. From reducing waste in food production to making accessible computers, to ensuring your whole supply chain is green, there are lots of ways to make your ‘purpose’ a business reality.
Purpose-driven brands may have become a trend lately, but the impact of purpose on the success of a company, both financially and culturally, proves that it has a real benefit for your business as well as your lifestyle as an individual. However, you need to do more than pay lip service to a cause.
The world is full of problems, and people want a business to play a part in solving them. Small businesses have a unique opportunity to respond to this need when forming their strategy. ‘Purpose’ has helped small businesses differentiate themselves from traditional competitors, and sometimes to revolutionise their industry.
Putting purpose at the centre of your small business helps guide your decisions, ensuring authenticity. Smaller companies are well-positioned to take advantage of this, as they’re nimble and flexible. They can make sure every part of the business reflects the ethos of its owner.
People are the most important part of any business and for entrepreneurs with small teams, supporting employees is key. Purpose motivates employees and makes them feel like part of the company. An increasing number of job-seekers want to work for companies with a purpose. A unifying purpose encourages greater employee satisfaction and quality of work.
And for customers, to see that a business has a heart and soul, makes you all the more likely to buy. By sharing your purpose with your customers, you create a loyal community of standard-bearers for your cause, who will spread the word about you with their friends.
People respond to purpose because that’s how we’re built. We naturally want to know the ‘why?’. So it’s well worth spending the time to figure out yours.
This article was contributed by James Bloom - who has launched two successful digital startups in the UK and US, Virgin Net and PlayJam, both sold to Nasdaq 500 companies. He currently works as an award-winning Creative Director and writer for leading ad agencies and brands.