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How to give your business a purpose beyond profit

Tarun Mittal
10th Jul 2017
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In today's business world, few things matter as much as profit. Profit is what all companies race towards, often ignoring all other aspects of business en route. But only a few companies ultimately succeed in crossing the finish line of this rat race. And it's not always because they were the only dedicated and ambitious ones—those traits can be attributed to most businesses. No, it's because they aligned their pursuit of profits with something else: purpose. Only when a company has a purpose that it actively pursues in all its activities can it hope to thrive in the cut-throat world of business today.

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Purpose builds a brand's reputation, draws customers, appeals to clients, motivates and retains employees—quite simply, gives everyone in the ecosystem a solid reason to work with a company. Just look at Google. They come up with cutting-edge internet products with remarkable alacrity and then share them with the world for free. They could exponentially increase their profits by charging a small fee for even a fraction of their free services, but that could would go against their purpose, which is “to organise the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” Here's how you can give your business a purpose that goes beyond earning profits:

Identify core values and abide by them

This step begins by asking the question: 'what is your company trying to achieve beyond making money?' The answer(s) to this question will give you your business' core values which collectively form its purpose. And this purpose should be strictly abided by in all aspects of business including customer/client interactions. A company that demonstrates an authentic purpose will gain customers, or at least ardent fans of their products, with little effort. Take Tesla for example—the company's purpose is to further the use of sustainable sources of energy over their environmentally harmful alternatives. And that can be seen in everything they do, from electric cars to power grids to solar roofs. Abiding by this core philosophy, along with a range of stellar products, of course, has made Tesla one of the most popular companies with consumers in the world today.

Hire the right people

It's not enough for the founders of a company to establish and follow a purpose. If their employees don't share the same purpose, it'll surely reflect in the business' operations. Creating a work culture centred around the company's purpose is crucial and the only way that can be done is by hiring only those people who share the employers' core values. This goes for hiring all employees, regardless of whether they're managers or interns. A good culture is created when employees share a common set of values and ethics. It's a delicate system that can be thrown into imbalance with a single mismatch which is why hiring plays such an important role in it. Once you have a set of employees who all abide by a common philosophy, your business is inevitably endowed with a larger purpose that's reflected in its operations.

Also read: How to write a kickass mission statement for your startup?

Create social value

The consumers of today are inherently skeptical of companies, regardless of how noble the business' intentions may seem. Unlike their predecessors from half a century ago, consumers view all companies as money-hungry entities and they’re quite justified for doing so. But if you don't want to fall into that category, you need to create shared value —generating economic value in a way that also produces value for society by addressing its challenges. A business that follows this practice attracts more customers who know that at least a portion of their money is being used to help those in need. And it's not only customers but the company's employees who benefit from this practice. Knowing that you're working for a cause that goes beyond increasing the bottom line increases enthusiasm, productivity, and loyalty in the workplace.

In the overcrowded room that is the business world today, a purpose is one of the most effective things for making a company more appealing than its competitors. So, if you haven't already, it's high time you got started on cultivating one for your business.

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