Business Purpose, Capt. Kirk and Over-Priced Pencils

Written by Josh Chesney

How building an inspiring vision for your business can lay the foundation for success.

Whether your company is a global mega-corp or a single person ice-cream stand, you know why you’re in business, don’t you…?

Exit through the gift shop

I was rummaging through the gift shop at London’s Design Museum the other week. I was just picking myself off the floor after seeing the price of a commemorative pencil, when I spotted David Hiett’s book “Do Purpose” on the shelf (for the price of a couple of those pencils). It’s a little paperback about building purpose-driven companies. Leafing through it, I found the following passage…

“…the most important brands in the world make you feel something… These companies have a reason to exist over and above just to make a profit.”

– David Hiett

I bought the book

That purpose is the elusive ‘why’ I mentioned earlier. Sure, you may start a business just to make money, be successful or to prove your school teacher wrong for calling you a ‘waste of space’.

But there were decisions you took for your fledgling company that were based on more than that. Identifying those hidden driving forces, finessing them and articulating them to yourself, your team and possibly the world are what will drive you ahead of the competition.

A purpose will build a company that customers flock to and employees desperately want to be a part of. Not convinced? Check out what Forbes, the World Economic Forum, and had to say about it.

It’s about why; it’s about how

Why do you do what you do? What do you love about it? What gives you the greatest sense of satisfaction? What are you trying to achieve? Finding these answers helps build the Why of your business – the vision of where you want your company to take the world.

How are you going to achieve that Why? How are you going to move from what you do today, to a future where that Why is realised? What are you going to deliver consistently to your staff and customers to get you to your ‘far horizon’? That’s your How and that’s your mission.

If in doubt, turn to Star Trek

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds. To seek out new life and new civilisations. To boldly go where no one has gone before!”

The ‘boldly go’ bit is the ship’s Vision Statement. Okay, so it’s not very quantifiable; you won’t know when the job’s complete, but this line is why the Enterprise has been built, crewed and flown out of space dock.

Every person on that ship knows that’s the goal they are working towards. They will travel, and aim to go to unexplored territory. They will continuously drive the frontier forward, all in the spirit of exploration. And they’ll do it with confidence and optimism; the word “boldly” isn’t there by accident.

But how will they realise the strategic vision? What’s the tactical plan; the Mission Statement? That’s where the other sentences come in.

You’ll explore strange new worlds (be pro-active). While you’re there you’ll seek out new life, and if you find some see if you can find their civilisations too (tactical and tangible objectives). Keep doing that every day, and you’ll move the Enterprise closer to its goal of going where no one has gone before (the Mission ramps up to the Vision).

Of course, annoyingly, as you explore a new world, it becomes an old one, so you’ll have to constantly move on (builds forward momentum). Sorry, but that’s the pressure of being a weekly TV show.

“It’s worse than that; it’s brand, Jim!”

Your Vision and Mission can inspire and lead your company forward. It’s an ever-present compass-heading for every single decision by every single member of your team.

Microsoft’s modern Vision Statement is “to help people and businesses throughout the world realise their full potential.” This is facilitated by their Mission “to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more.” Everything the company does is aligned to the statements in one way or another.

Your Vision and Mission set the tone for your company, and help build your corporate Values. The Vision and Mission are the foundational DNA for your brand. It’s no coincidence that big brand slogans are simply sexier ways of stating the mission (see Nike below).

Finding your purpose

Identifying why you’re really in business is hard. Articulating that is very hard. Getting everyone in your organisation to agree with you on this is very, very hard. That’s where we come in.

Dauntless can help you unpack your reasons-to-be, find the elements that really speak to you, and put them back together in a way that will speak to others. We can help you work with your team to understand their thoughts and ambitions, and weave them into your own. We can build a vision for your future together, and lay down a Mission to inspire your organisation to get there.

Get in touch, start the conversation and take the first step towards success, or as Spock would say, “to live long and prosper.”

‘Enterprise’ photo by Nathan Dumlao on Unsplash