Purpose is mainstream. It’s high fashion. Everyone is busy finding a purpose for their business. From credible publications to Page 3 stories, each research suggests that doing good is doing good business. They are 42% more profitable. Over 40% of the Fortune 500 companies rushed to find their purpose in the last 3-4 years. It’s catching on like a gold rush of today. From garages in Silicon Valley to Board-Rooms of Fortune 500 companies, the buzz has already made Purpose a Billion $ consulting industry.
As always, there is another side to the story! These are the folks, who shun purpose. They love to shoot straight. They are bold. They don’t bull shit. A number of start-up founders believe, Money is their biggest draw! Purpose is just a flavor-of-the-season dressing. The M word is the only vitamin that matters. They do not want to stay fixed on one particular thing, rather they look to an exit at the right time to maximize wealth creation and move on! So, all these fancy words do not apply to them!
What do you believe? Which side of the divide would you prefer to move to, if not already?
Let’s dig in. There is no denying money is important. It’s important for everybody. The degree of need and desire may vary. That’s all. However, if we talk of money and purpose in the same breath, it’s akin to comparing an apple with an orange. Because, money is an outcome metric, while purpose is an input indicator. Purpose is something that we decide. Money is decided by the market and clients, which we don’t control. We can only hope to do all the right things and do them right, so that profits can be maximized!
A business exists to solve a problem. Purpose is the reason why a business would exist. As Simon Sinek calls it the Golden Circle. And, if we dig deeper, we often find the linkage. Let’s take an example. A fin-tech startup that calculates insurance premium based on healthy practices of individuals, actually helps bring down premium by rewarding good behavior. They are not only democratizing health insurance by bringing down premium but driving good health for the world. So, “a healthy world” can be a purpose that the venture pursues. This purpose becomes the North Pole, the magnetic field of which is so powerful that it pulls and aligns people and stakeholders around it. It’s the source of emotional capital. Emotional energy is at the root of Arab-Spring movement or Occupy Wall Street movement or Black Lives Matter movement. So, if we want to create something big, something that is larger than what money can buy, we have to lean upon emotional capital. It’s more powerful by nature, than financial capital.
Second, purpose is the larger umbrella which subsumes a family of problems and each problem subsumes a family of solutions. If eliminating global hunger is the purpose, then the first venture could be in fin-tech area that focuses on opportunity creation by extending micro-credits to the bottom of the pyramid. The second venture could be an agri-tech, focusing on sustainable farming. And the third could be around smarter logistics and distribution system. So, there is nothing wrong in the founder moving on, from one venture to the other, making money at each exit. In the process, she has pursued a purpose of solving a larger problem in the world and triggered several innovations to form an innovation economy to drive hunger out of the world.
Which path would you like to pursue now? Start by finding your own. And there are ways to find one. Signing up with Purpose Alliance is just one of them!