All good things come in 3’s are there are 3 steps towards creating a shared business purpose (or mission).
However, before going any further – what is a business purpose? Let’s be clear from the beginning, a business purpose is not (directly) to do with the business owner seeking to make profits (that may be your ultimate personal or business objective – but it is not your business purpose).
At its most straightforward – business purpose is a combination of 2 elements. Its about your:
- BUSINESS VALUES -who you are and what you stand for.
- BUSINESS VALUE TO OTHERS – what you do and how it benefits others.
As a business owner you need to recognize and distinguish between 2 common types of business purpose:
- a ‘PURPOSE FOR’ – doing something.
- a ‘PURPOSE WITH’ - our customers
A ‘PURPOSE FOR’ (doing something) – is where you are working as a business entity – and striving to align your business values and the business value you bring to others.
A ‘PURPOSE WITH’ (our customers) – is where you are now WORKING TOGETHER WITH YOUR CUSTOMERS – but still striving to align your business values and the business value you bring to others. Its a SHARED BUSINESS PURPOSE.
A shared business purpose is becoming more commonplace – because increasingly customers want to collaborate and they want to – belong – influence – engage with you.
It should be stressed that neither type of business purpose is right or wrong, or better or worse. They are just different. Let’s illustrate that difference by looking at a couple of examples:
- Dunkin Donuts have a PURPOSE FOR:
- ‘Make and serve the freshest, most delicious coffee and donuts quickly and courteously in modern, well-merchandised stores’.
- Starbucks have a PURPOSE WITH:
- ‘To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, one neighborhood at a time’.
If we were to delve more deeply into the Starbucks purpose (or mission) – we would find that they go on to separately illustrate how their business principles (values) relate to their coffee, their partners, their customers, their stores, their neighborhood, their shareholders. Starbucks have a SHARED BUSINESS PURPOSE.
So how does a business owner work towards creating a shared business purpose?
Essentially there are 3 questions that a business owner needs to ask (and be able to answer). They need to ask:
- What is the shared purpose that:
1. we and our customers can work on together?
2. is a natural expression of who we are and what we stand for?
3. connects making money with how we contribute to the world?
So what choice are you going to make? A business ‘purpose for’ (doing something) or a business ‘purpose with (your customers)’?
If you choose a ‘purpose with’ remember – in strategic terms 3 is a magic number – and there are 3 steps towards creating a shared business purpose!