The Power of Purpose for SMEs
The purpose of this company is to make the world a better place in the best way I know how! This company will create jobs and improve living standards, especially in developing countries.
We have all heard of Vision and Mission statements, and if they are used as a reference rather than a marketing tool both can be a real asset to a company, because it not just about putting some fluffy words on paper, but defining the intentions of the company. We want to be….., and we will do….;
When thoughtful and true to the companies original reason for starting they can support decision-making criteria and importantly act as a reminder, in difficult times, of the essence of the company.
If you take a keen interest in other companies, to understand their DNA, you will see that obvious statement patterns emerge – vision statements generally say “we want to be the best XXX company”, and mission statements usually contain “we will be the best XXX company by offering the best YYY service”….all good and well, and this may be similar to your own statements with a tweak here and there.
Having been involved with the setup of a number of companies now, each time there was long and hard deliberation on this subject, and I have sat with established organisations and supported introspection as to what they truly wanted to be, why and how to create current and valid statements. Yet only recently did I understand the significance of a purpose statement.
You may have heard of some, here are a few examples
IKEA: To create a better everyday life for many people.
Tesla: To accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy
Nike: Bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete* in the world. (*If you have a body, you are an athlete.)
Smithsonian: Shaping the future by preserving our heritage, discovering new knowledge, and sharing our resources with the world
The common thread amongst these is the aspiration to help others and make the world a better place. Now, “those organisations are ‘big’, their intentions are ‘grand’ and you would expect something like this from them, but how does that affect me?” you may say.
Through my own personal journey, it struck me that organisations of all sizes should stand for something. Seeing the world today, the divisive and the destructive, the inequality and injustice…I am not proud of the environment we have created and I do feel that we can all do more to protect our people, our rights, our global community, and our planet. I certainly want a better world for my children and future generations.
Look at the rise of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) initiatives, which started back in the ’60s, but is gaining great momentum recently, is the requirement for a business to ‘give back’, or at least not ‘take’ as much, and consider social, environmental and ethical factors.
In 2015, the United Nations published 16 goals for 2030, called Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDG’s) to highlight key issues and collaborate with countries to close some of the inequality gaps with food, water, education, healthcare, energy, decent work & economic growth, being just some.
Link to blog – a beginners guide to UN SDG’s www.
If I take myself as an example…can I bring about zero poverty, or provide health and well being to all?…of course not, but I can try to make a difference. And that is by using my attributes to the best of their abilities. So, GTM was born to be an ambitious part of the solution, not the problem. By job creation. By effecting job creation where it can make the biggest difference. By effecting job creation in hundreds and thousands of small businesses. And in some way help raise living standards and reduce unemployment in emerging and developing countries. (did you know that, although decreasing, 763M people live on less than $2/day, and that a close neighbour of ours, India, has over 44M unemployed today).
Success will not be measured in billable hours, profit margins or shareholder dividends, but in the number of jobs created – and the number of business’, communities and families helped.
In addition, there is evidence of some noticeable beneficial side-effects of purpose. Your employees will feel they are valuable and making a difference and productivity tends to increase, you will become more attractive to candidates and recruitment costs reduce, the moral compass of the workforce pints in the right direction. And let us not forget that you will become more attractive to customers.
So we should all, small or big, owner or employee, think about the purpose of our company and if that purpose sits true with our own idea on what we want to contribute ‘to the world’. Can we change the world?…Together, we have to.