Tell the world: We’re on a Crusade!
The podcast of the Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinar on the Purpose of your business (with a capital “P”)
The podcast of the Small Business Masterminds Foundation Webinar on the Purpose of your business (with a capital “P”)
What does it take to make a success of your small business… how can you avoid adding to those frightening statistics about failure rates of small business?
In this series of articles and associated webinars and workshops by Roland Hanekroot you will learn the basic concepts and get the knowledge need to become a successful ‘Business-Owner’, as opposed to a struggling ‘Business-Doer’.
The format of each episode in the “First Steps” series is to explain the basics of the topic and then in line with the principles of New Perspectives business development programs, to suggest some “First Steps” you can take straight away to put the knowledge into action.
In the fourth of these articles we’ll look at Purpose and ask: What is the Purpose of your Business?
Contrary to what most people think, the Purpose of your business is not to make lots of money.
As John Mackey, author of the book “Conscious Capitalism” (More info here) and founder of “Wholefoods Markets” says: “Thinking that the purpose of business is to make money, is like thinking that human beings are on this earth to eat. Eating allows us to fulfil our purpose in life and it is the same for business. Profit allows Business to make good on its Greater Purpose”
Shame really, because life was so much easier when us business owners could just focus on “maximising shareholder value”, but in the 21st century we have to rethink the Purpose of business.
Allow me to illustrate what I mean with one of my Business Bedtime Stories.
(The ‘Business Bedtime Stories’ are real world case histories that illustrate the different aspects of business that the various New Perspectives Business Coaching programs deal with. See it in pictures here)
Once upon a time… a long long time ago in a country not unlike Australia… John owned a cornershop in the inner city of Sydney…
Running a cornershop in the inner city is hard, there are corner shops everywhere and then there are the 7-Elevens and city express stores and even Woolworths and Coles get in on the act from time to time.
The hours are insane, profitability is minimal and the Competition is just crazy.
John often caught himself thinking: “How can I escape this trap of deadly competition with my neighbours, so we can all have a better life?”
Working with me as his business coach, John came to realise that the only way to escape the competition trap was to make the competition irrelevant.
The way to make the competition irrelevant is by making yourself truly unique, by creating something that is completely different from everything else out there.
And so he did, John decided to become “The Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.
The day he made this decision, everything changed. Sydney has great corner-stores, handy convenience stores, big Coles and Woolworths, sexy delis and grocers, but there is only one “Best Small Supermarket in Sydney”.
2 Years later, John opened a second store, a year after that his third and a year later again his fourth. John’s customers love him and love his stores, profits are many times what they were 3 years ago and John is creating something really special in the Inner City of Sydney.
And John and all his satisfied customers lived happily ever after…
So let’s have a look at what we can learn from John:
First: Competing on price is not a strategy for sustainable success of your business.
Second: In order to avoid having to compete on price, you need to be clear about the Purpose of your business.
Third: The Purpose of your business has to relate to your customer’s needs.
Focusing on profit as the Purpose of your business, has one major flaw: Your customers have no interest in supporting you to make money. They are quite happy for you to make a profit, but only after you have met their needs first.
There is a beautiful video on Youtube by Simon Sinek (watch the video) another bestselling business author and management guru. In the video Simon states that “People don’t buy What you do, they buy Why you do it”.
In other words, your customers want you to explain to them why your business exists, what it is on this earth for and why they should care.
In working with my clients to find the deeper Purpose of their business, I always ask them those questions first and invariably I get the following three answers:
1. We do great work
2. At a great price
3. And we give great customer service
Undoubtedly true, but first of all your customers expect those three qualities as a bare minimum, a starting point and secondly, your competition makes exactly the same three claims. Have you ever met a business owner who proudly claims to produce and average product at an average price with average customer service?
This is why you must find the deeper Purpose of your business.
Here are some example of deeper business Purposes:
1. An Architect’s business: Architecture that Inspires
2. A furniture factory: The Most Beautiful Tables in the World
3. An Electrical contracting business: You’re in Safe Hands
If you were in the market for a table, wouldn’t you like to check out the furniture factory at number 2? Of course you would… I know I did.
You might be interested to know that all three of these businesses have been wildly successful and bucked their respective industry trends for years now.
The process of finding and developing the deeper Purpose of your own business starts with asking yourself the following 7 questions:
1) What are my 5 most important personal values, as they relate to business?
2) What core beliefs do I hold about my business and industry?
3) What do I get really excited about in business; what do I get out of bed for; what am I passionate about?
4) What do I want my business to be the best in the world at?
5) Who are my ideal customers?
6) What do my ideal customers need or want that they are not getting at present?
7) How can I address all 6 questions above and develop a long term sustainable, profitable business model around that?
I encourage you to involve others in brainstorming these questions with you. Working your way through them will put your business on an entirely different footing, I guarantee it.
This is the topic we will be talking about at the November Masterminds ‘live’ workshop as well as the Masterminds online webinar, both on 14 November. If you would like to attend either the webinar or the workshop, register here
As mentioned at the start of this article, here are some resources and actions you can take right away, that will get you started on implementing the principles I discussed.
Go to the resources page to find the following resources that will help you clarify your Purpose and Passion in your business:
1) The Simon Sinek Video about the “Why” of your business
2) An article from business guru Jim Collins about the importance of “Vision”
3) A worksheet and tool I have created to help you step through the 7 questions above.
So in part 4, I will summarise the whole idea for you and sketch out some real word examples of the concept and how to apply it.
As I’ve said, most small business owners are overwhelmed and stressed; there are so many different priorities vying for their attention every day that they simply don’t know where to focus next. It is simply too much… everything is important and then there are the crises.
So what we tend to focus on instead are two things:
The stuff that falls by the wayside is the Stuff that Steven Covey in his book “The seven habits of highly effective people” refers to as “Quadrant 2” work… the work that is important but not actually really urgent… it can always be postponed for another day or another week.
The problem is that exactly this work is what I call “The work of the business owner” as opposed to the work of the business, and hence the business stagnates and you as the owner of the business start to feel stressed, frustrated and overwhelmed even more.
So how about if there was one measurement that could tell you what the most important thing to do was in the coming week to move out of that stagnation and overwhelm.
And that is the concept of “Fun in Business”
Because when a business is Fun, it means that everything is working.
If your business is FUN, it means you are making money and staff are engaged and customers are Raving Fans, and all of that good stuff.
And most importantly, it is actually possible to measure Fun in business as a relative measurement and when you do so consistently and systematically; it can help you decide where to focus your time and energy next. Then what happens is that you will start to move out of overwhelm and stagnation and start to build your business that works for you again, instead of the other way around.
So if you ask yourself and your staff: “How much fun did we have last week on a scale from 0 to 10, where 10 is that we just couldn’t wipe the grin of our faces and 0 means the opposite?” you can find an answer. Let’s say that the answer is 6.5, for last week; you can then ask yourself (or your team): “What do we need to do to make next week a 6.6 on that same scale?” This last question can often lead to surprising and very narrowly focused answers…
Answers I have seen to this question have been as prosaic as: “Let’s make sure we collect some more of the outstanding invoices this coming week” or: “If we could all come in an hour earlier this week, then we can get this project out the door and that is just going to be such a relief for all of us”.
I wrote about my client Richard and his design business in part 3 of this series, and how he implemented the Fun scale in his team management.
Another client of mine, John, has a small chain of cafés in the inner city of Sydney. John also incorporated the Fun in Business scale in the way he manages his businesses.
A problem John has is the transient and casual nature of a lot of his staff. Managing the business is therefore a headache, as he never knows how long his staff will stay and how committed they will be.
But John has taken the fun concept even further in an effort to engage his staff.
It is difficult for John to get all his staff together on the same day at a staff meeting, people might only work on aMonday and never meet half his other staff. So John has introduced a digital system that integrates with his time sheets.
Each staff member has to sign into his staff management computer system when they arrive for their shift and at the end of their shift they have to sign out in the same system but at the last shift of the week the staff member also has to answer a couple of questions in the form of a survey.
The questions are:
These questions were confronting at first for a lot of staff members, but slowly but surely people were starting to see the point, especially when shown that their manager (John in most cases) took their suggestions and requests seriously.
After a few months of consistent application of this Fun in Business system, John’s business truly became unrecognisable and his business started growing again.
And that is why deciding to take a determined focus on having more FUN in business may well be the most significant decision you make in your business.
Thank you for reading this series of articles… Now it is your turn… I’d love you to start thinking about how to start measuring how much Fun you are having in your business… why don’t you call a staff meeting and discuss it… brainstorm it… see what people think?
You might be surprised how even a few conversations on these topics might start to introduce a little bit more fun for everyone in your business.