In my experience there are three ingredients necessary for a rewarding and successful business experience. You must be engaged in a business that you enjoy and feel a sense of purpose, you must be fairly good at what you do and you must be able to convince other people to pay you for what you do.
Now, I’ve met some very happy business people who have the first two ingredients in abundance, but can’t quite discover how to monetize the business at all. However, I’ve rarely come across a truly successful business owner who can make lots of money doing something they are good at and still be happy in a business that provides little in the way of a deep seated sense of purpose.
No way around it really, businesses that people connect with at very deep levels all seem to be driven by a higher purpose formed either by a passionate owner or a passionate mission. Now, before I go much deeper here, I want to clarify that this notion of higher purpose does not necessarily suggest some spiritual or religious inspiration. It’s more about creating something people want to connect with. It’s an honesty that is hard to define, but can’t be faked. You usually know you’ve come across a business that’s in touch with a higher purpose simply by the way you react to their story.
It’s not really what you do as much as why you do it that must be captured and defined as part of a truly captivating purpose strategy. Sarah Endline didn’t know she wanted to be in the candy business, but she did know that one day she would start a business that was driven by socially responsible business practices.
She had determined by the age of twenty-one that her life path would be that of a social entrepreneur. She attended Harvard to obtain an MBA and studied the business cases of companies like Ben and Jerry’s and The Body Shop, but never quite fell on the model for her social venture. She took her business training and went to work in Silicon Valley, all the while keeping her “change the world” business fires glowing. In 2004 she could no longer keep her passion at bay and decided that the candy world seemed to lack a Ben and Jerry’s type player. After traveling around the world to learn what she could about making chocolate in a socially responsible way, she launched Sweetriot.com in the fall of 2005.
“I asked myself what I could work at 24 hours a day and still be happy and passionate about and chocolate just seemed to me the perfect answer.” - Sarah Endline on why chocolate to fulfill her business dream.”
Sweetriot’s stated mission is: To create a more just and celebrated multicultural world for our next generation. Sounds ambitious enough, but it’s how it manifests in seemingly every aspect of the business that makes people take notice and get connected.
Their product is all natural and healthy, but so is their business. “We create sweet experiences for our customers, partners and employees, says Endline when asked to define what gets people talking about Sweetriot.”
A documented sense of higher purpose for your business can often be stated by answering this question: What place, perhaps even one word, do you want your customers to hold when they think of your business? You may or may not ever communicate the stated higher purpose for your business, it should quite naturally hang from most everything you do, but in terms of an actual statement or phrase it is also quite natural to hold this as an internal rallying cry.
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