How to create a business purpose as a call to action

How to create a business purpose as a call to action
Mark Bates
Mark BatesApplebright Coaching

Posted: Fri 3rd Nov 2023

What is the reason your business exists? What is its deeper purpose?

It can be clearly demonstrated that businesses with a clear and bold business purpose are likely to be up to 10 times more successful than those that have not. According to PwC, 79% of business leaders believe that business purpose is central to success.

Your business purpose is highly likely to be much broader than the product or service offered and may connect to a calling for the business and its place in the world.

"How we spend our days is of course how we spend our lives"
- Annie Dillard

Creating a people-oriented purpose

People are at the heart of every successful pioneer business purpose. From the large conglomerates to the tech giants, there may be much debate about how and why the leading global brands have dominated the way in business success. However, in various guises, at the heart of these successful businesses is its people.

This may seem an over simplification, but in paying attention to the people that the business serves and in recognising and valuing its people, this is a clear formula and cornerstone principle of business success, no matter the size of the organisation.

The creation of a bold business purpose will engage not only those people that the business wishes to serve but also those that work for it or are closely aligned to it.

The undeniable financial pressures of the current economic climate mean that as business owners, we have an obligation, more than an opportunity, to consider how we get an edge, create legacy business success and develop approaches that attract the best new talent and retain top performers already present within our organisations.

This does require bravery and resolve, but is an essential part of creating growth within the business to boost profitability and credibility for customers and clients.

The true spirit of an entrepreneur should be of a pioneer, the ability to engage employees, customers and community alike, to create a business that has a purpose beyond its brand and that resonates for all of those that work for or use their products.

Reflecting the purpose and values of leadership

In coaching, I often begin by working with business owners and leaders to construct their personal and deeper purpose and values. This is a useful starting point for any existing or new business considering its values by capturing the purpose of leadership.

This is important as our authenticism as leaders can only be enhanced by clearly tracing the link between the individual or collective purpose and values of the whole team, as well as its leaders. This can then form the basis of a wider engagement to understand how employees identify with those values and how they can be enhanced even further through consultation.

In pursuit of life's purpose

Individual purpose is best pursued by the life-motivating approach of understanding our reason for being, our 'ikigai', a Japanese concept. The engagement of our deeper purpose is an energising source of growth, sits at our core, and therefore, is a huge part of our motivation, and how we show up as leaders in the world.

In the westernised iteration of the methodology to consider an individual's life purpose, the business owner, leader and top team can each work individually to identify the core elements of their motivations.

Through careful consideration of what they love doing, what they are good at, what makes a difference in the world, and how they can generate income, they will discover their passion, their mission, their vocation and their profession.

From this, it is possible to understand how everything overlaps, both in the professional and personal setting, and to find the place where they are at their happiest and most effective, this is their state of flow, their true ikigai.

There is a parallel and useful translation of this approach. This translation enables the leadership's and workforce's view of purpose and values to be developed even further into a business ikigai template.

The template can be partially formulated from the DNA of the workforce and will also specifically examine what they feel passionate about, what their company is uniquely good at, how they can create economic value and how their work may serve what the world needs and ensures that it does no harm.

Watch this webinar to discover the advantages of a purpose-driven business:

Key to success

1. Employee engagement

Creating high levels of employee engagement for leaders is a golden strand of success. Being able to clearly involve your people in the creation and maintenance of a meaningful business purpose has been proven to also create extremely high levels of engagement.

When employees feel that their work contributes to a meaningful purpose, they are more engaged and motivated. This in turn leads to higher productivity and creativity.

2. Customer loyalty

Purpose-driven businesses often resonate with customers who share similar values. This can lead to increased customer loyalty and long-term relationships.

It has been clear even through a cost-of-living crisis that customers will still look to see that the corporate and social values of the businesses they buy from are compatible with their own values.

3. Innovation and inspiration

A strong sense of purpose can inspire innovation as employees are more likely to seek creative solutions to address meaningful challenges. This broader meaning and purpose is an energy source for all employees and as such, will create the fuel for their innovation and ideation.

4. Talent attraction and retention

Purpose-driven organisations tend to attract top talent who are aligned with their mission. Moreover, employees are more likely to stay with a company that provides a sense of purpose. This creates a bond that connects the potential recruit and the existing employee to the business through its broader purpose.

5. Reputation and branding

Purpose-driven businesses often enjoy a positive reputation, which can enhance their brand and differentiate them in the market.

This is not exactly akin to directly donating to charity, but discerning customers will often be loyal to brands, particularly when an organisation can clearly demonstrate the social value that it adds.

6. Business resilience

A clear sense of purpose can help businesses navigate challenges and setbacks more effectively as they are driven by a long-term mission. This also becomes a means to test decisions, challenge the business's direction and ensures that those decisions are indexed to the broader purpose.

7. Stakeholder buy-in and developed trust

Purpose-driven companies tend to build trust with stakeholders, including investors, suppliers, and communities, leading to stronger partnerships and support. This of course is a vital element of business growth as successful business partnerships allow each individual to grow as well. It is purpose that will often be the shared catalyst for stakeholder support and funding.

8. Ethical decision-making

A sense of purpose can guide ethical decision-making, ensuring that a business operates with integrity and sustainability. This links closely to business resilience, and ethical decision-making frameworks can support leadership to create processes by which all key decisions are taken with reference to the business's purpose and values.

Top-performing purpose-driven companies

The evidence is clear for the success of purpose-driven organisations. These include companies, such as Patagonia, an outdoor clothing and gear company which is renowned for its commitment to environmental and social responsibility.

Tesla, the electric car manufacturer has a mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy.

Unilever has a sustainable living plan that aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people while reducing environmental impact.

Microsoft has committed to a carbon-negative future by 2030, meaning it aims to remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it emits.

Salesforce emphasises its core values, including a commitment to social and environmental responsibility. It also have a one-one-one model, donating 1% of products, 1% of equity and 1% of employee time to charitable causes.

To business purpose and beyond!

Developing your business purpose will cause you and your leadership team to be heavily engaged with the whole business. As a result, the quality of the product developed will be significantly enhanced.

Having looked at methods to develop that purpose, you may wish to delve more deeply into how to continue and extend your employee engagement, so that your business is one that attracts the best people. Enhancing recruitment processes can also support your business to better understand the culture of your potential recruit. This may be more significant to the business than some trainable skills.

In all of this activity, it is vital to track and understand the various strands of change to create a transparent performance cycle, which demonstrates the value of these interventions to the business as a whole.

Relevant resources

Mark Bates
Mark BatesApplebright Coaching

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