NEWS / INSIGHT

The point of a purpose

Why are you here?

There’s one important question every business must be able to answer. Here it is.

What is the purpose of your business?

If your answer is “to make money”, you need to think again.

Every successful business has a strong mission at its heart – to improve some aspect of life, or add value to it. It’s not necessary for your business to have a social purpose – although we do like those – but every business needs to have a cause they believe in. As Richard Branson says: “A business is just a way to make someone’s life better.”

So, while you’re thinking about products, business names and customers, you also need to take time to think carefully about what your business stands for. What is its mission statement?

Here are some examples. One of last year’s #VOOM finalists, SENDY, is the world’s only P2P parcel delivery community and the reason they exist is, “Because friends always deliver”. It answers a natural customer worry, ‘will my package get there?’ with an uplifting message about human nature.

And how about something really snappy? Airbnb is essentially a company that makes it easy to rent houses. But their purpose is “Belong anywhere.” Rather than just being a cheap way to travel, these two words show the company is really about making people feel at home wherever they are, across the world.

If you can sum up what you’re aiming for in four words or less, then you’re either saying nothing or you’ve hit the purpose statement jackpot. But don’t you have more important things to be worrying about, like your bottom line?

 
 

Perhaps not. The 2012 goodpurpose® study done by Marketing firm, Edelman found that, “When quality and price are equal, the most important factor influencing brand choice is purpose. Across the globe, the prominence of purpose as a purchase trigger has risen 26% since 2008.”

Purpose-driven businesses are much more successful than those that are looking just to make money. That’s because the mission at their heart inspires everyone they touch –employees, customers, suppliers, investors. It binds them together in a common cause, drives them on and keeps them focused on the journey ahead.

Julian Borra is founder and creative strategist of The Thin Air Factory, a consultancy that helps businesses unlock the power of purpose. He says: “Benefits of having a strong sense of purpose include: being able to attract the best talent, having a scalable culture, having meaningful social engagement with others, inspiring appropriate innovation, and identifying the best partners to work with for growth.”

He adds: “Having a strong sense of purpose also enables the business to stay focused on the values which the founder originally introduced. It’s the cornerstone of resilience within a business”.

A quick case study

Andrew Hunt is co-founder of Aduna (www.aduna.com), VOOM finalist and social business. Aduna promotes and sells three relatively unknown but beneficial super-food ingredients, which are grown in rural Africa – baobab, moringa and super-cacao.

He says: “Our mission is to create demand for under-utilised natural products from small producers in Africa – in order to transform their economic and social well being. We work in partnership with rural communities in northern Ghana and we take the products right the way through from village to shelf.”

Andrew says that having a strong social purpose has enabled Aduna to recruit top-quality talent – because people are willing to work for much less than they could earn elsewhere (or even for nothing) for a cause they passionately believe in.

He says: “For us, our mission, vision and purpose is absolutely instrumental in everything we do. It really drives the business and gives it direction, and it has enabled us to make the impossible possible.”

Aduna now works with 1000 women in nine rural communities, and sells powders and energy bars in 1500 stores around the world.

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