How To Develop Your Company’s Purpose

How To Define Your Company's Why

Let’s go back to business school. It seems basic, but we’ve seen many businesses fail to do this little bit of soul-searching early in the development of their business, jump the gun without clearly understanding the reason why they’ve started up or why they exist. If your initial answer to this revolves around money, sadly, you’ve missed the point. If you want to make sure your company exists long term and that your business can flourish and thrive, it’s great to understand your business’ WHY.

Luckily for you, reflecting on your why is the first step in putting together a quality management system.

This is a concept that will help you understand and identify why some organisations and some leaders are able to inspire, while others aren’t, as Simon Sinek explains in his Ted Talk. We can’t take any credit for the idea, but we will give ourselves a small pat on the back for making it one of our guiding philosophies while we’re doing business here at Best Practice, and this will soon be one of yours too, as you implement an ISO system into your business.

“Every single person, every single organisation on the planet knows what they do…100%.”

“Some know how they do it. Whether you call it your differentiated value proposition, or your proprietary process, or your USP. But very, very few people or organisations know why they do what they do.”

“The goal is not to do business with everybody that needs what you have. The goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe.”

The lesson here is that it will ultimately work against you if you’re simply selling your product or service, rather than your company vision, your mission statement, and the underlying motivation for the company’s desire to disrupt the existing industry.

You want your customers to be buying into more than just your product offering. You want them to be buying into the philosophies driving your decision making, and the business purpose. If you make an effort to keep that in mind, and advertise your why just as clearly as your product or service itself, subliminally – and powerfully – you’ll pass that onto your customer and team members, who will hopefully be buying into your why.

“And by ‘why’, we don’t mean to make a profit, that’s a result. By why, we mean: ‘what’s your vision statement, what’s your cause, what’s your belief… why does your business plan exist?

Sinek continues to argue that the inspired leaders and organizations regardless of their size, regardless of their industry thinks from the inside out, beginning with getting a clear idea of that business’ why and mission statement.

“There are leaders, and there are those who lead. Leaders hold a position power, or authority, but those who lead inspire us.”

Sinek concludes the talk with the guidance that: “It’s those who start with why that have the ability to inspire those around them or find others who inspire them.” Leaders who have a clear and defined why will find that company culture and buy-in will strengthen.

Refine Your Why

Now, in wrapping this up, we’ll talk about some ways you can help find – and refine – your company’s why, your company’s core. The main thing to keep in mind is to be reflective, and don’t shy away from making some changes to your core operations, if you feel you’d be better served by consolidating your why.

If part of your motivation for starting up the business was to lessen your environmental impact, then make sure you’ve made strides in that area. If your why was to fill a gap in the market that was previously unserved, then make sure in your reflective thinking, you’re not simply copying your competitors’ purpose statement, and you’re offering something that potential clients would genuinely like to buy into.

It can be abstract in theory, but in reality, outlining and sticking to your company’s why is an absolutely essential piece of the puzzle when putting together a successful business as it positively impacts all stakeholders. Simon Sinek’s work on the topic has strengthened the evidence that customers are continuing to align their vote, their wallets and their decision with companies that share a similar set of values, and have clearly outlined that their why goes significantly further than to make money during customer service.

reflective questions to get you clear on your why

  • Who or what inspired your idea?
  • What is interesting about your business’s story?
  • What’s unique about your offering?
  • What’s the problem that you’re trying to solve?
  • Whose problem are you trying to solve?
  • How has your business evolved over time?
  • Why does your business exist?
  • Do you have a cause that your business is supporting?
  • What do YOU believe in on a personal and professional level?

After you’ve given these points some thought, don’t be afraid to ask for the advice of those that understand the business inside and out, such as your trusted team and mentors.

Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle

There are three layers to your business’ story according to Simon Sinek and this can be summarised with “The Golden Circle”. There are three layers in this circle, the “WHAT”, every business in the world knows what you do. These are products or services. The “HOW”, only some organisations know how you do it. This is what makes you special. Finally, the “WHY”, very few businesses know WHY you do what you do. It’s the very reason why your business exists.

Simon Sinek's "Golden Circle".
Simon Sinek’s “Golden Circle”.

We encourage you to use some of these steps and have a look at Sinek’s work. You’ll be better served to meet customers’ needs and requirements with your operations.

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