Sunday, July 25, 2010

You must define the purpose of your business!!

“The first principle of ethical power is Purpose. By purpose, I don't mean your objective or intention-something toward which you are always striving. Purpose is something bigger. It is the picture you have of yourself – the kind of person you want to be or the kind of life you want to lead”. ~Ken Banchard

Most businesses have a mission and vision statement, normally developed during a strategic planning session. However, these statements very rarely address the real purpose of your business, and I feel that purpose trumps mission and vision statements every time.

I am not saying that vision and mission statements are unimportant. I am only saying that a business must first have a clearly defined purpose. Otherwise, it is too easy to get off track when developing mission and vision statements.

A statement of purpose should be very short – no more than one sentence – and should provide a foundation on which mission and vision statements build. Take for example the Jim Moran Institute’s Outreach Program. The purpose is, “To help entrepreneurs be more successful and profitable without ever a charge.”

When our kids were around five years old, they had a favorite question. They must have asked this question at least 25 times every day, driving us absolutely nuts! You guessed it. That question was, “Why?”

As crazy as it made us to hear it over and over again, asking “why?” was their way of trying to understand this very complicated life we live. Now, my daughter has to listen to her very special son ask, “Why, mama?”

So what does this little anecdote have to do with purpose statements? “Why?” is one of the two questions that entrepreneurs must ask themselves when generating their purpose statement. “Why are we in this business?” And the second question: “What do we really want to get out of it?”

In addition, while mission and vision statements are typically crafted without any emotional hooks, a purpose statement should generate some emotional feeling in order to really be accepted by the staff. Staff may not know or understand your mission and vision statement, but they need to understand and be able to express the purpose of your business.

A financial institution’s purpose statement might be something like, “To provide exceptional financial services to our customers while ensuring a reasonable rate of return.” The purpose of a men’s clothing store might be, “To be a family business that strives to make each customer look and feel good about their clothes.” An awards/trophy store might say their purpose is, “To sell products that make people feel good about their accomplishments.”

Conceived by founder, James Dyson, Dyson’s purpose is as follows: “To make things that work properly.” Not only is it very clear, it is easy to get behind because it makes most people feel good to have this as their purpose.

Now go out and make sure that you identify the real purpose of your business and develop a statement that encompasses it. This must be done in order to ensure your staff is on the same page.

You can do this!