Five steps to discover your startup’s purpose

A brand purpose is an important part of determining your company’s identity. It explains the meaning behind the type of work you do, and how it benefits your customers and beyond. 

Not to be confused with your mission statement – which focuses on your objectives – or your goal-driven vision, your purpose works in parallel and describes the meaningful reason/s behind what you do, aligning both your profit and decision-making towards helping others.

You may question whether a purpose is necessary. 

But the answer is fast becoming YES, it is. Over 80% of respondents in Edelman’s 2019 trust barometer special report felt that they need to trust a business to do what is right when deciding whether to purchase from them. That’s a lot of people looking at how businesses add meaningful value to the world.

Perhaps in tune with current climate change troubles, an enormous 70% rated Environmental Impact as a deal breaker when it came to choosing a brand.  

These numbers remain consistent across demographics, such as age, gender and income, so it’s safe to say that a vast amount of your customers want to see a business purpose doing right in the world. 

So, where do you start? 

No one else can tell you your own Why, but by following these steps, you’ll find your own way of discovering it yourself.

Ask yourself why

For the purpose of this activity, push the thought of your financials out of your mind. Every business needs to make money in order to survive, but it does not define your purpose.

Consider what brought you to decide to do what your business does.

What is your story, how did the idea come to you and how do you help your customers?

Jot down any points you think of, whether they immediately jump out as a purpose or not. And be authentic, as it will also help to build the trust that your customer base has in your business. Avoid elaborating or fabricating aspects and just be true to yourself.

What do you want to change

Ask yourself how do you want to make a meaningful impact on the world. Are there any issues or concerns that you often think about, whether they fit with your business product or not?

For example, Coffee Coal, who joined our second incubator cohort, create environmentally-friendly fuel from coffee waste, and were formed on the back of wanting to maintain the beauty of the world for their family’s future generations. 

Remember, they don’t need to be directly linked to your business product or service, like Coffee Coal, and making a list of your passions will help in the next steps.

What do other people want to change

Your purpose should demonstrate that you understand what it is that your personas care about and work towards changing. 

Conduct research into what the top concerns of your customer personas are, and also what your competition is doing. To be authentic, avoid carbon copies of other business’ purposes, although aligning to an established, existing initiative would work. 

Combine your findings

Once you have all of this information, it’s time to combine it together. Are there any similarities or conflicts?

Because your purpose will feed through your entire business, getting buy-in from your staff and co-workers is essential in both its authenticity and your team commitment, and therefore we recommend involving them in this process. 

Once your team understands your purpose, and their contribution, they will feel empowered to make decisions aligned to it. “There is a link between purpose and autonomy because if you know where you are going, it’s much easier to be able to be autonomous. I think purpose creates some real clarity and therefore some real agility,” advises John Rosling, CEO, Contexis in this CMI article.

Bring it to life

Now you have your purpose, the last part is to design your marketing to attract and engage with your target market in the most effective way. Avoid boasting, and let the compassion shine through your messaging.

We discuss marketing your business over on this blog, but you can also rely on your team to help bring your purpose to life as they will naturally reflect it in your company culture. If you’re just starting out on your entrepreneurial path, and are interested in six months of free support, guidance and more to get your business up and running, you can apply now for our incubator programme.

The next application deadline is Monday 10th May 2021

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