ith winter just around the corner, it swiftly turns into an incredibly busy, but exciting, time of year for many of us small business owners. Whilst you may have your focus firmly aimed elsewhere over the bustling Christmas period, it’s also the perfect time of year to reflect on something even more important – your small business purpose.
Soon we’ll be entering into a new year of business and it’s more than likely that your business purpose will have changed before the year is out. It could have altered ever so slightly that you may not have even noticed it, or perhaps more dramatically that you knew a re-alignment was needed for a while.
As small business owners, it’s important that we check in with ourselves every once in a while to ensure we are staying aligned with our brand identity as it evolves. An aligned business vision can only mean great things for you and your business, and I can tell you exactly why.
According to a research study “Strength of Purpose” of 8,000 global consumers and 75 companies and brands, consumers are four to six times more likely to purchase from, protect, champion and trust companies with a strong brand purpose.
A strong business purpose can help you improve top-line growth by generating more loyal customers and maintaining your customer base. Now, more than ever, it couldn’t be a better time for you to truly know and understand your business purpose and why it serves as a force for good.
It can be a good habit to pencil in a purpose review into your calendar at the end of each business quarter, or at least at the end of the year. In doing so, it can act as a guiding compass for your business and help drive decision-making and overall business strategy – a no brainer right?
So, grab yourself a beverage and get ready to join me for some internal reflection and let’s get started on nailing that business purpose.
If you’ve never sat down formally to do this before, don’t worry! All you need is a pen and paper and a positive mental attitude to get you started. And remember, there is also absolutely no wrong or right way to do this.
Listen to what your gut tells you and write down the first thing that pops into your head. You can always go back and finesse things later after you’ve looked at your business facts and figures.
The single biggest question to ask yourself first is: “Why does my brand exist, beyond making revenue?” To really dive deep into this question, it can be helpful to break it down into smaller and more digestible chunks. To start with, ask yourself these eight key questions:
After you’ve answered these key questions, you should have a fairly clear picture in your mind of what your business is all about, and why it is you do what you do. Now you’ve got the initial puzzle pieces in place, you can use these answers as a framework to craft your own short 1-sentence purpose statement.
Think of your purpose statement as being your WHY. It works in tandem with your mission statement (2-3 sentences that explain how you’ll achieve your purpose) your HOW, and your brand values which is WHAT you will use to guide your business decisions.
I know crafting a purpose statement is no quick and easy task, especially when you’re a small business owner who is already wearing a lot of hats – the marketing manager, the salesperson, accountant and HR. That’s why I’ve handpicked some of my favourite purpose statements from brands below to help get those brain cogs going and use a source of inspiration.
(Note: Some of these brands have merged their mission and purpose statement. You can also do this if you feel they go best together).
“We’re in business to save our home planet.”
“We exist to help people with creative ideas stand out and succeed. We create a modern platform that enables millions to build a brand, share their stories, and transact with their customers in an impactful and beautiful online presence.”
“We love making ice cream—but using our business to make the world a better place gives our work its meaning. Guided by our Core Values, we seek in all we do, at every level of our business, to advance human rights and dignity, support social and economic justice for historically marginalised communities, and protect and restore the Earth’s natural systems. In other words: we use ice cream to change the world.”
“To inspire and nurture the human spirit – one person, one cup, and one neighbourhood at a time”
“To create a better everyday life for the many people.”
“Oxford University Press is the largest university press in the world, publishing for three primary markets: research, education, and English language teaching. OUP’s mission is to create world-class academic and educational resources and make them available as widely as possible.”
What these purpose statements all have in common is that they speak from an authentic, long term point of view. They are also succinct and don’t try to cram in too much information at once. No one wants to be overloaded with too much information as this can be hard to digest, and your prospects may be less likely to remember your brand and why you stand out. You can always go into more detail in an ‘About Us’ section on your website if you want to dive deeper into your brand values and mission.
Ideally, you also want your purpose statement to be as authentic as possible, so keeping a tight focus on your ‘why’, will also help you achieve this. An authentic brand purpose will shine through and be more likely to be remembered by customers or prospects. It may even help keep their brand loyalty with you! A 2019 survey by Stackla revealed that 86% of consumers said that authenticity is a key factor when it comes to deciding what brands they like and want to support.
What you’ll definitely want to avoid is “purpose washing”. Purpose washing means pretending your brand has a deeper purpose than it actually does. Unfortunately, this can be a frequent occurrence in the business world, especially during the Covid-19 pandemic, where brands have been seen jumping on political and societal bandwagons – sound familiar?
Rest assured, if your brand gives off even the slightest hint that you’re not being 100% sincere, your customers will see straight through this and more than likely have a negative response. This can be in the form of unsubscribing, unfollowing or even not making any future purchases – eek.
For example, in 2021 fast-fashion giant H&M was accused of “greenwashing” after it started selling its H&M Conscious collection. The collection was allegedly made from sustainable fabric derived from upcycled clothing waste. However, due to the fact the collection was reported to contain a higher amount of “damaging synthetic materials than its main line”, this didn’t go down well with the eco-conscious community, and more than likely, its customers.
This form of performative activism can, in turn, contribute to alienating your customer base and prospects, which you certainly don’t want to happen. So, just as a gentle reminder, make sure everything you do in your business – despite what your competitors may be doing – aligns with your purpose. A truly authentic purpose statement will speak for itself.
Another thing to be wary of is what other coaches and consultants may be whispering to you about your business model. If you’ve been told that something you’re doing may not be the best route for making the most money, pause and remember why you’re doing what you’re doing in the first place. Is it first and foremost to make the most money, or is it because you are extremely passionate about making accessible clay jewellery?
Now you’ve got all that gruelling groundwork out of the way, why not set yourself the task of going away and writing that amazing purpose statement? Feel free to share your draft statements with me on Instagram @ebbflowandgrow in my DMS, or send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free initial audit of your purpose statement.
Or if you feel totally unsure about your brand purpose and don’t even really know where to start, you can book a free 1:1 discovery call with me where we can really get a feel for your brand and how my services could help you get back on track. If you want to find out more about ways to work with me, check out my services here or send me an email at email@example.com
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