The benefits of being a purpose-driven business: why having a purpose doesn’t mean increasing expenses

On December 3rd, 2020, Annie Wissmiller and Mark Odegard from Measure Meant joined Business Brew as guests. The topic was “The benefits of being a purpose-driven business: why having a purpose doesn’t mean increasing expenses”.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways from the conversation.

What does it mean to be a purpose-driven business? It means that the business lives its values through the work it does. It means the business looks to solve problems and address needs. It is sometimes referenced as people, planet, and profit. The idea that the environment is central and the economy and business come last.

Purpose-driven businesses take a stand for something bigger than products or services. But, it doesn’t mean you have to solve all the world’s problems or solve climate change. No purpose is too big. Purpose can also be about your employees. A business can provide low-cost healthcare or pay a livable wage.

Greyston Bakery is a great example of a business with a purpose. The purpose of Greyston is to serve its employees and its community.

How does a business find its purpose? Finding the purpose of a business is never a straight line, it’s an evolution. It’s a winding river. Owners and stakeholders can start discovering personal values or what they find important. It’s important to ask how the business can make a positive impact on the community, the employees, or the planet. Another good place to start is by asking employees what’s important to them. From there, you can align your values with your product or service.

What if the business is already established? It’s possible that the business is already purpose-driven, but you’ve never put words or meaning to it. Again, you can ask your employees if they know the purpose of the business. Better yet, you can ask your customers if they know. Remember to ease into being purpose-driven. You don’t have to solve all the world’s problems. It’s ok to start small. One idea is to investigate the carbon footprint of the business. The business can then explore ways to become carbon neutral. The ability to buy carbon offsets makes this easy.

How does a business maintain purpose over time? Making the purpose public and visible is one way to maintain being purpose-driven. By publicly posting and community the purpose, the business becomes accountable. Another idea is to find new revenue streams or solvable problems as a way to continue to serve the purpose. Patagonia’s Worn Wear is a great example of this in action.

Is there a difference between Values, Purpose, and Mission? A mission can sometimes be bottom-line driven. A purpose isn’t what value does a business want to add, it’s what impact does the business want to make. In that sense, purpose and values can often be synonymous.

You can watch the full Business Brew below.

Thanks again to Measure Meant and Annie and Mark for joining us!

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