The world has changed – the “features and benefits” approach to selling products and services is no longer enough. Today’s customers want to understand what the company stands for, what its values are; they’re looking for companies they can relate to. As Simon Sinek said: “People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.”
And they’re not the only ones looking for meaning – staff also want to work for a company having a strong culture with which they can identify. Recognise, though, that this is not just “nice to have” stuff – it really is good for business. In an O.C. Tanner study, companies were tracked over an 11-year period and those with a strong culture averaged more than 4x the revenue growth, 7x the net income growth and over 12x the stock price growth of those without.
So, in today’s world, the importance of defining your business’ purpose and values cannot be overstated. It goes beyond traditional marketing strategies and profit margins, being about creating a profound connection with your audience while building a strong organisational culture too, and sets the stage for long-term success.
Let’s look at the components necessary to establish your purpose and values strongly.
Finding your why:
- As previously stated, “people don’t buy what you do; they buy why you do it.” Your business purpose is about more than profits – it’s a meaningful cause that drives passion and differentiation.
- Start with identifying your purpose – the fundamental reason your business exists. What customer problem do you solve or need do you fulfil?
- Reflect on your origins to discover your “why” and draw inspiration from your initial motivations for starting your business, as HP did so well. Understanding your origins and passion often reveals insights into your purpose.
- Craft a statement that captures your essence and the positive change you aim to create.
Establishing your values:
- Your company’s values are fundamental to shaping its culture, guiding decisions, and defining its identity. Consider what principles guide your decisions and interactions with staff, customers, and other stakeholders.
- Involve your team and stakeholders in defining values, pinpoint non-negotiable principles, and align them with your business strategy.
- Values should be woven into your culture, led by example, communicated transparently with clear, actionable statements, and celebrated when embodied by individuals and teams. Look at what Zappos has done to promote its values and how it’s used them in creating a highly successful business.
Crafting your vision:
- A clear, inspiring vision is essential for providing direction, aligning your team, and staying focused on your goals.
- Define your vision ambitiously yet realistically, considering where you want your business to be in the future and the impact you aim to make.
- Articulate your vision clearly, use stories and metaphors to bring it to life, and passionately own it to guide decisions and inspire your team – as Apple has done, becoming the world’s most valuable company in the process.
Defining your mission:
- A well-crafted mission statement captures your business’s essence, purpose, and goals, acting as a moral compass for decision-making. LinkedIn’s mission statement is a great example of this.
- It’s crucial to involve your team in shaping your mission and to align it with your business strategy.
- Regularly review and refresh your mission to ensure it remains relevant and adaptable to changing circumstances.
- Defining your business purpose and values is not just a strategic exercise; it’s a fundamental step in building a successful, enduring business. The elements described here – your “why”, your values, your vision and your mission – act as guiding stars directing your decisions, shaping your culture, and differentiating your brand. As you navigate the ever-changing business landscape, remember that they are the cornerstones upon which your business success rests, guiding customers to you not just because of what you offer, but because of the genuine impact you make.
So, take the time to explore your purpose, reflect on your values, and share your authentic story. In doing so, you’ll create a business that not only thrives, but leaves a lasting mark on the world.