Now that’s a big question, isn’t it! And the answer is not usually gleaned from business books or courses. This is because the answer is unique to you.
At every event, retreat, and with each new client, I always begin by asking...
The reason for this is when you really think about it, you are probably not clear on the answer. And this is why the question is so important.
If you can’t go deep on your answer here then you are probably building the wrong business.
And shockingly, a lot of people are building the wrong business, they just don’t know it. So working on this question empowers people at a whole different level before we even get on to their business strategy.
In fact, business strategy is easy, providing you’ve got the purpose to align it to. And this is the key – get clear on your purpose and everything else comes into focus.
One of the biggest discoveries I’ve had over my two decades in business is that there are multiple elements to purpose.
And this took time to figure out. It wasn’t learned from textbooks, but rather from the mistakes I made in my own businesses.
Some just didn’t work, and one of them worked on paper but I was just bored. These things happen, yet they don’t teach this stuff at business school.
After twenty years in this arena I had to ask myself how come there were some very financially successful business owners who were bored and miserable.
Then there were others who were poor but genuinely enjoying themselves. It had to be about so much more than money.
Lifestyle was obviously important, but where did it fit? And what was this passion thing that the great entrepreneurs were always talking about?
So over time I’ve come to believe that any truly successful business has these five components of purpose. Check in with each of these points as you ask yourself...
"Am I building the right business?"
You must have a genuine and deep passion for what you do, and each member of your team must also have passion for what they do.
This passion will be different across the company, and you have got to understand that. It is critical for Generation Y to be appreciated for what they love to do and what they bring to their role, or else they will leave your company.
Most people can articulate service, as it is critical to what you do. But when I add the question of what value your business brings to the market place, then it becomes a very different question. And very few people can articulate their answer to it.
This is crucial for sales. If you can’t articulate the value you bring to the marketplace, then your business isn’t scalable.
However, when you can answer this in depth, you then have competitive advantage.
Now at first this seems oddly placed at the level of purpose. But if there is not a market, there is not a business.
This is where a lot of hobby businesses get trapped. It is all very well having passion and bringing wonderful service to the world.
But it doesn’t mean that there is a market there, or that you can scale a business from it.
Putting cash right in the centre of purpose is controversial, and I stand by it 110%. In fact, one of the biggest messages I give on this point is to the charity sector.
Charities are businesses like any other, and they are there to make a profit. Without profit you do not have a business. And if you can’t make a profit then you can’t serve more people. So money is well placed when it sits close to the core of your purpose.
I think that Generation Y have been part of driving the myth; it is not about the money it is about the passion. Yes, I get that, but you need both.
To wrap this all together, let’s talk lifestyle. I am a big believer that business serves life. If we are building a business that is not serving our lives, then we are building the wrong thing.
Here is the kicker…
For those of you who are perceived to be really successful, you will probably be destroying yourselves in the process. Because it is this fifth element that kills most entrepreneurs.
They destroy their relationships and their health, because they believe that someday they will work it all out. They work too much, hoping for the ‘business fairies’ to come along.
They tell themselves that someday they will get their relationships and their health back, when the business takes care of itself.
This is why lifestyle has to be at the center of the business. Because if it’s not then we burn ourselves out. We need to learn how to balance our stress because it is real.
If we don’t have balance, relationship and health, then we are effectively building a time bomb for ourselves.
All five elements of purpose need to be intact for us to be building the right business.
But there is a secret here, which I only share on the stages. With all five of these elements, if you cannot articulate each and every one of them, then one of your strategies are missing. Each of these elements of purpose points to where you are weak strategically.
If you can show me where you are weak in your purpose, I can show you where you are weak in your strategy.