The start of a new year is the perfect time to reflect upon and reaffirm your business purpose
Purpose sounds relatively simple. If you’re in the business of selling socks, then your purpose must surely be, to sell socks. But perhaps more thought is required. With over 60,000 books on Amazon dedicated to discovering one’s purpose, there’s clearly a lot more to it.
In a TEDx talk a few years back, movie producer Adam Leipzig succinctly tackled this very topic. In explaining how to define your purpose (which can easily be applied to ‘how do you define your business purpose’), there are just five simple questions to answer.
- Who are you?
- What do you love to do? (i.e. what are you qualified to do / or teach people?)
- Who do you do it for?
- What do they need or want?
- How do they change or transform as a result of what you give them?
It’s a simple yet fascinating exercise to undertake. Interestingly, only two questions are inward facing, the rest are outward focused, thus why it’s such a powerful formula. It centres around who you are serving.
As Leipzig surmises “the most successful people always focus on the people they serve. Happier people make it a point to make other people happy.”
So, in the sock business scenario – the purpose of the sock business is not to sell socks. The purpose is in fact – to make people feel good about themselves. Socks are just the conduit to do that.
Naomi Simson, Founder of RedBalloon discovered the purpose of the business through listening to customers. After asking a customer for feedback on a DC3 flying experience he had purchased for himself and his father, she was enlightened by the response.
He said his father rarely communicated, however after the flight on the car trip home, his father was tremendously animated. Because as a young man, he’d heard the first DC3 flight on the wireless and had always dreamed of going on one. He’d finally realised a dream. The son said he would never forget the day, as it was the day his father spoke.
It was a lightbulb moment. It was then that Naomi defined the purpose of RedBalloon, “it is to shift the way people experience life.”
As we begin a new year, it may be an opportune time to reflect upon what the purpose of your business is. You may be surprised at what you discover. Who knows, a simple exercise could help shape your strategic agenda for the year ahead.
Watch the full video of Adam Leipzig’s “How to know your life purpose in 5 minutes” at TEDxMalibu.