Experience has taught me that the most powerful catalyst in business is having a mission, or a passionate purpose.
In my last article, I discussed the concept of having a purpose 'beyond profit' (you can catch up on that article here).
There are a couple of experiences that are worth sharing on this.
When discussing the idea of purpose with one firm I went on to work with, I vividly remember the managing director staring at me and admitted he didn't know what his purpose was.
He said: "I don’t think I have one. I know I need to make a profit in business. But I haven’t a clue what my purpose is in life.”
At our first meeting nine months previously, this director had described his life as feeling “empty”, even though others envied his income and possessions.
My message to him was this: “Frankly, if at the end of your days you don’t know the answer to this ‘why’ question of your life, it will matter very little what else you do know.”
A driving force
One of the most explosive business success stories I’ve had the privilege to be involved in as a coach was with a financial planner called Mary.
Mary was driven by a passionate purpose, the seeds of which were planted in the deeply upsetting experience she had as a child, watching her mother trapped in a miserable marriage.
Decades later, this purpose has evolved into a business model that goes well beyond merely helping women to understand and organise their money.
What Mary’s work with clients does is to create calm out of chaos, and healing out of heartache: she is helping women with the problems they face when going through a painful divorce.
When first meeting with 12 different teams of solicitors specialising in helping women going through a divorce, Mary found she didn’t need to sell her expertise.
She viewed each of those meetings through the lens of her purpose. This made her attuned to any of their comments that could guide her in designing a completely new, more relevant service.
It was an approach to business that was rare, engaging and memorable. Certainly those solicitors felt so, and they championed her services as a result.
Commercially, embracing her purpose has allowed Mary to create a healthy fee structure. More importantly, her reputation has freed her to live the more relaxed life she yearned for.
Being guided by a passionate purpose does that to a person, and to a company.
Give it time
In the early years of setting up a business, we can be forgiven for focusing on getting clients and revenue through the door.
At this initial stage, articulating a purpose might seem somewhat academic – however overwhelming the evidence of its impact.
Some of the most visionary companies have found their purpose was strongly felt throughout their culture. It was there – just not overtly spoken about.
Even after coaching some clients for many months, there are some that still wrestle with this fundamental principle. So, don’t feel you need to panic if you take some time in working this out.
It’s foundational. But it’s just one factor that can contribute to lifting your business to an extraordinary level. Remember, there are a number of major blocks to any foundation.
Perhaps after reading this, your purpose this year is to find your purpose?