What is Purpose?

Purpose in Business: Beyond ‘Business as Usual’

By now, you have heard about all kinds of ways business should be benefitting the world, besides the usual: providing needed or wanted products, services, and jobs and boosting the economy.

Do not get me wrong, those are excellent things and must continue.

Purpose, done right, elevates the reason your business exists beyond the transactional to begin to power good in the world by doing business – not just through business as usual.

And that is good for business, good for society, and good for the economy.

So, what is Purpose in business and how is it different from all the other things?

Purpose in business is, simply put, defining the reason your company exists as a societal reason (social or environmental) where that unique Purpose becomes the decision lens on all that your company does, driving business growth as well as (business-related) societal good.

Purpose is not an action; it is what determines your actions.

Purpose does not stop at (yet often incorporates and guides):

  • Company donations or volunteering

  • Caring about your community & supporting good causes

  • Mitigating harms caused by your business

  • Being ethical or responsible

  • Being a good corporate citizen

  • Being ‘green’

  • Having good environmental, social and governance policies, practices, and metrics

What authentic Purpose looks like in action:

  • Your company's Purpose aligns with what your business is best at (its competencies and assets), yet...

  • It goes beyond products, services, satisfied customers and / or excellence in your industry, and...

  • It is aspirational. Accomplished, it contributes to solving a pressing world issue (social and/or environmental).

  • Your company’s Purpose is used as a decision lens to pursue or decline opportunities, making decision-making simpler.

  • Purpose guides business strategy and is owned by and evident in all functional areas of the business, notably at the top.

  • Your Purpose has a clear value-add for the business and for society / broad stakeholders.

  • Your company’s Purpose offers an innovation lens on all you do revealing previously un-noticed business opportunities that also benefit society.

  • Your stated Purpose inspires joinable, doable action, and makes people feel like a part of the solution when they get involved as employee, customer, or partner.

Does your company have a Purpose like that? If it did, would it benefit your business?

If you don't have this kind of Purpose, or you are not sure, get in touch – I can help!