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How to create a purpose-driven business: the final instalment

Drawing of a stick figure holding a graphic depicting a purpose-driven planning process
Purpose should be your "North Star" guiding you every step of the way

Over recent weeks, we’ve brought you a series of posts about creating an on purpose” business. We hope you’ve found one or two tips to add to your leadership toolbox.

It goes without saying that time is short these days, and attention spans seem to compete in the brevity Olympics, so we thought a brief “highlights package” would be the right thing to produce to tie everything together.

Before we do, though, let’s one more time underline why purpose is essential in business.

First up, compared to other businesses, those with a clear purpose which they “live” on a day-to-day basis:

· have more highly engaged and productive employees;

  • are more likely to attract and retain “ideal” and engaged clients; and

  • are proven to be more profitable.

Those are great reasons to aspire and strive to be a purpose-driven business.

And second?

Simply put, it’s just the right thing to do. promised, what follows are some highlights and conclusions from the series.

But first, to give you even greater context, we’d suggest you read this Insight which provides a case study showing the impact of clarity of purpose on the business of one of our clients.

It’s well worth taking the time if you’re “on the fence”.

Your business purpose already exists.

You (and your teams) may just have lost sight of it amid the day-to-day of "getting stuff done”.

Your purpose resides in the very reason your business (large or small) came to exist in the first place…the challenge your business was looking to solve in its market. Reconnecting with this purpose is a priority, not just another item on the to-do list.


Clarity of purpose provides the beacon that guides the most successful businesses, shaping every decision they make and every action they take.

picture of the word purpose spelt out in small wooden blocks on green background
It's important to distinguish between purpose and a cause. They're not one and the same

Let's also be very clear. Purpose isn't about a business wanting to pursue a world-saving cause. We've made this point countless times before. It's great - indeed desirable - for a business to be environmentally aware and have clear ESG-related objectives. But that's not purpose. It's not the reason a business exists.

Purpose drives Vision, Strategy and Business Plans

Purpose isn’t just a slogan – a poster on the office wall. It’s the engine that drives your business vision, strategy and right down to the details of your business and action plans.

Let’s break that down a little.

Sometimes, during the planning process, businesses treat each step as a stand-alone exercise. When they do that, they run a significant risk of building a business focused solely on short-term outcomes with little or no acknowledgement that bigger aspirations even exist for the business – that is, its purpose and vision.

The planning process should be treated as a multi-step, logical and connected process driven by purpose, as explained in the graphic below.

graphic showing a purpose-driven planning framework
Using a purpose-driven planning framework is a way to give you planning real direction

This implies a constant review of preceding steps, ensuring a logical, bigger-picture thread runs through the entire process. Ultimately, the aim is that the day-to-day work of everyone in the business has a demonstrable link to purpose, referencing strategy and vision along the way.

Today’s employees crave purpose

That much is clear.

There’s a range of factors that affect employee engagement, of course. What’s clear, though, is that a large proportion of employees are willing to sacrifice, at least in part, some of the more traditional drivers of engagement to be part of a purpose-driven business.

Many people in the workforce would even take a pay cut to work in a purpose-driven business that they feel aligns with their values.

This is hardly a trivial research finding and should occupy the minds of leaders across all businesses. We’re not talking about employees necessarily feeling like they’re contributing to world peace…they want fulfilling work in a business that recognises other outward-looking priorities can co-exist with revenue and profit.

So do clients

Again, we point to research from various sources that shows clients, when given the opportunity, will choose to engage with purpose-driven businesses over those that aren’t.

Next time you speak to your clients either directly or through client surveys, you should make a point of asking them if they're aware of your business purpose. You'll be surprised at the range of responses you receive and will light a fire under you to embed purpose more deeply across your business. If you don't, your competitors probably will...

the word important written in black ink and underlined in red
Do your clients really get your purpose?

There’s probably nothing more to be said on this point except to gently nudge you to have a read of our last Insight.

On the issue of profitability

Again, ample research from around the world shows that purpose-driven businesses can derive superior financial outcomes than other businesses. Some of that research goes back several decades, so it’s hard to dismiss it as a fantasy.

Deloitte, for one, has published data showing that purpose-driven businesses can capture more market share and grow three times faster than competitors. By the way, they also report 30% higher levels of innovation and 49% higher levels of employee retention. You can find the Deloitte report here. Chapter Two, in particular, is excellent reading.

Closer to home, a client of ours experienced a significant uplift in revenue and profitability after working with us on clarifying and embedding purpose. You can see exactly what the owner of that business said by checking out the GrowthCatalyst homepage.

Other than that, if you’re still not sure, we’d urge you to do some more research…but once you’re convinced, do give us a call!

The choice for business is clear

Purpose-driven…or not. And really, it’s not a choice, is it?

Please take a few moments to review our previous Insights for our references to global research on the issue. There’s plenty to provide food for thought.

drawing of a stick figure looking at roadsigns with good choice written on them each pointing in different directions
Becoming and remaining purpose-driven is always a good choice

What’s increasingly apparent is that individuals are to be looking for ways to make a meaningful impact” in the world of work. That can be as simple as understanding exactly how their role and what they do influences business outcomes other than profit and revenue.

You can allow those individuals to do just that in your business. It’s clear that if you do, you’ll do better than those that don’t.

The same goes for clients. You’ll get more engaged and loyal clients if you can demonstrate a commitment to a broader purpose that shows you want to make a difference in their lives.

This isn’t just a fad that’s going to go away.

Now’s a good time to start…

We hope you’ve enjoyed our “purpose-driven” series.

Our aim has been to bring together some fundamental tips and strategies you can put to work in your business.

Bringing all the pieces together is a big task, and, as we’ve said, independent facilitation of the process can help speed things along. We’re here to lend a hand if you need it. So please call or drop us a line, and we can organise an initial chat about where you’re heading and how we can help.

chalk drawing of man climbing stairs toward the words "what's next?"

How purpose-driven is your business right now?

If you're keen for immediate feedback on how sustainable your business growth might be over the longer term, please follow the link to our "Strength of Business Purpose Pulse Check".

It'll take only a few minutes to complete, and you'll get your results instantly.


Is purpose your "business North Star"?

Does it drive everything you and your employees do and every decision you make?

If it doesn't, what does?

The advisers at GrowthCatalyst can help you create and embed purpose and put you on the road to long-term, sustainable and profitable business growth.

Contact us to arrange a face-to-face or virtual conversation.

Alternatively, you can book a time for an initial discussion here.

Why not subscribe?

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