The Purpose of a Business
What is the purpose of a business?
To make money?
To make world beating products?
To change the world?
The purpose of a business, as Peter Drucker, the management guru famously said, is to create a customer.
Which means that if the purpose of a business is to create a customer then business only has two functions; marketing and innovation.
“Because the purpose of business is to create a customer, the business enterprise has two–and only two–basic functions: marketing and innovation. Marketing and innovation produce results; all the rest are costs. Marketing is the distinguishing, unique function of the business.” Peter Drucker
But I think that is quite a simple definition of the purpose of a business.
How To Create Real Purpose In Your Business
For the business coaching clients I work with, the purpose of a business is so much more than just creating a customer.
Just like the purpose of Apple under Steve Jobs was to “Delight Customers”, my clients want their businesses to stand for something.
Having a business purpose that stands for something provides both employees and customers/clients with the opportunity to get behind it and champion your business. It can provide a cause to support or something to rally around. If people support your cause it doesn’t matter what you sell or produce.
Fundamentally, people want a story that they can relate to. A story that creates an emotional bond, and is compelling enough that it persuades them join or follow your cause.
It business could be high end, you could be selling beautifully designed computer kit like Apple or a Good Grips Kitchen Peeler. It really doesn’t matter. The fundamental point is that potential customers must have a connection to the purpose of the business.
Farmer’s Markets vs Factory Farming
In recent years there’s been a growth in demand for customers or potential customers to understand the providence of their food that they eat. Whether that’s produce or meat.
They want to be sure it’s pesticide or GM Free. They want to know that it’s been lovingly grown by Joe or hand made by Nigella.
Every Sunday you can see exactly that at Farmer’s markets up and down the country. People love shopping at farmer’s markets, because they get to meet the producers, and growers. Hearing the stories of how the jams or chutneys were made and the names of the animals that created the cheeses.
People will want to know that your story is one to do business with.
And what’s more, they’ll pay for the privilege too.
The stories that resonate with your current and potential customers aren’t usually the ones about what the product does but, instead about the way it improves the lives of its users.
How To Create Purpose In Your Business
With tales of corporate greed and business failures over the last 10 years. Customers want to believe in something. They have been used to being sold too, hoodwinked and misled. So they are looking for something wholesome and honest.
Customers and employees want to believe that your business has a purpose that they can rally behind and support, regardless of what you sell or produce.
By changing how people think about your business you are manipulating their behaviour. And The manipulation of behaviours can make the difference between selling a common or garden vegetable peeler or a Good Grips Kitchen Peeler.
Both do the same thing, so why would you want to pay more for the Good Grips version?
Maybe it’s because in 1989, Sam Farber, a veteran of the kitchenware business, created when he saw that his wife, Betsey, an arthritis sufferer, struggle using a conventional metal vegetable peeler.
That’s a story people can relate to.
That’s a story and an idea that people can rally behind and support.
There are effectively only two ways to manipulate behaviour. Either manipulate it or inspire it.
Manipulation or Inspiration
You’ve seen manipulation everywhere, whether that’s politics or selling. Fear is used as trigger. Products are made to be aspirational. Products of a perceived high value are put on sale via price drops.
Start With Why
Back in 2010 Simon Sinek, author of the book Start with Why addressed a TEDx audience about how great leaders inspire action (video below).
He asked the question about why do great leaders become great?
Why do they attract attention of millions of follows.
Fundamentally, why do they attract attention of millions of follows.
The lessons from the book are as relevant to business owners as it is to business leaders or leaders of the free world.
Fundamentally, business owners understand what they do. Many business owners can tell you how they do it.
But few can tell you why they do what they do.
4 Steps to Creating The Purpose of Your Business
1. Start with your own why
As a business owner, why do you do what you do? If you don’t know why you do what you do, maybe you want to re-evaluate.
2. Then the business why
How does your business support your own why? Do you need to change what you do to be more in tune with your personal why? It’s not unusual that some people decide that they want to move out of a business, because it’s not consistent with their own why at this stage.
3. Write your own story
Once you’re clear on your own why and how your business contributes to your why, you need to write your story. You need to talk about the emotional aspects of your story and explain it very clearly.
Of course, not all stories will resonate with your customers or your employees. So I highly recommend reading my article Sticker Than Glue which explains the principles behind how you tell a story a spreadable story.
4. Tell your story
Once you’ve created a story that is spreadable, you need to start spreading it. So tell the story at every opportunity, at networking events. On your business’ “About” page and in your marketing brochures. The story needs to be consistent and shareable.
Before long, not only will you have a the purpose of a business, your potential customers will know you have a purpose too.
Simon Sinek author of the book Start With Why, shares in this 18 mins video how great leaders inspire action. All from having a clear sense of why they do what they do.
Although aimed at leaders of organisations, having a clear purpose and sense of why is just as true for you as a business owners as it is for leaders.
Watch and learn!