Why purpose matters?

by | Apr 8, 2022

What’s the purpose of your company? Have you ever thought about it?

I’m not talking about the literal purpose of selling product A to customer B, but the higher purpose behind your company: the impact it’s making on a global scale. Have you ever thought about that?

A problem I see many businesses struggling with is their charitable and environmental objectives: environmental responsibility is something every business should be thinking about, and because founders have realised that they need to display their ecological credentials, they’ll bolt on initiatives in an attempt at greenwashing things.

Bolting on any policy rarely works: too often it won’t fit with other policies within the organisation because it hasn’t been properly thought through and planned for. In extreme circumstances it can end up causing a negative impact elsewhere. 

Do you remember when Tom’s Shoes introduced their Buy-One-Give-One Scheme? For every pair of Tom’s sold, they donated a pair of shoes to a child in need. As a philanthropic exercise, it looks great on paper, and allows customers to feel they were making a difference in the world, without having to make too much effort. However, there were some unintended consequences – local shoemakers were being put out of business and serious questions were asked about the effects the free footwear had on the children they were intended to help – whether or not giving away shoes really made a significant impact on the lives of the recipients… hardly the desired effect! 

Closer to home, I’ve seen first-hand the effects of only paying lip service to sustainability – in trying to get certified to ISO 9001/14001 in one of my companies, we tried to bolt it on the side to meet the necessary criteria. Obviously when we went for the audit things didn’t go as planned. So, we postponed things for a year, rebuilt our plans from the ground up and engaged the whole team in the process of how to actually build quality and sustainability into our culture and systems.

Which is the key – you have to bake your principles and initiatives into the foundations of what you’re doing. If you don’t know where to start, take a look at the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – https://sdgs.un.org/goals and see if anything resonates. 

Now, I know that this won’t work for every business. But if what you do can be delivered to people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it, then that’s a really great place to kick things off. Just make sure that doing good in one place isn’t causing damage in another! 

In Amplified we work with impact leaders and help them to go on a scaling journey with not-for-profits and charities – we want them to have a purpose that everyone can align to and be inspired by. It’ll help you attract new customers and build a great team, who really care about what you’re trying to achieve. If you want to explore how to create a more transformative purpose that inspires your team and others around you, then please get in touch or book in a call at jamespotten.com/businessgrowth