A memorable business is rooted in its purpose. There’s something about a brand that’s led by its purpose, and we, as humans, can instinctively sense out those good brands. We want to support them, buy from them, be a part of their mission, and self-identity with them. On the flip-side, a purpose-driven brand runs fueled by its “ultimate why”—why you began in the first place and the heart of why you do what you do.
Brands that eventually fall flat or seem to plateau are the ones who stray away from the original reason why they began. Instead of stopping and pivoting as needed, they keep going, keep grinding and spinning their wheels endlessly until burnout.
Not to say there isn’t frustration and burnout at times with a brand strongly rooted in its purpose, but it is way less likely to call it quits when something hard hits. Your messaging feels more authentic, and selling becomes easier because it doesn’t quite feel like selling, it just feels more natural and easy. No sleazy car salesman vibes here : D
Our purpose is going to look different for each of us, because, well, we are all unique with our own perspective, our own experiences, and stories. Which is amazing! Each one of us has something different to offer. Sure, we have similarities, and maybe our purpose is almost the same as another’s (most likely in a world of 7+ billion), but no two are truly identical.
Well, it starts by stripping away almost everything and getting to the core of your “ultimate why,” the heart of what you do and why you do it. Personal example of my “ultimate why”:
• To empower those around me who are inspiring a better world and future.
You may be thinking, how does that translate into a business transaction? To do this, you have to find your offering rooted in your purpose. Personal example of my offering rooted in purpose:
• I help create visual identities for purpose-driven brands (sustainability-focused, health/wellness, community-building, authentic innovation) that want to inspire a better future.
Next, you’ll need to have a set of values to help you stay on track. As you move forward in your business, new opportunities and decisions will pop up. Not every opportunity will be right for your business, and sometimes decision-making can be tough. Having core values set will help guide these future shifts in business. Personal example of my core values:
• Creative Growth
Now that you got a little peek into the backend of my business, it’s time to start working on yours!
It all begins with evaluating why you’re currently in business and what inspired you to get started in the first place. Understanding what you offer in business is, yes, somewhat obvious, but understanding why you offer x y z is something we tend to miss or lose sight of. Getting to the heart of your “ultimate why” helps you stay authentic in all aspects of your business, allowing you to attract your right people.
Take some time and review the following questions:
• What inspires you and your business?
• Think back to when you were just starting—what was on your mind when you decided you wanted to begin? What motivated you to take the jump?
• In your everyday life, what concepts, sayings, theories are important to you? (Usually, the things that are important in your everyday life resonate within your business.)
Now ask yourself… What resonates with you the most? Does it connect with your offerings? Is there something that really resonates, but does not really connect with what you do in your business?
If what you find does match your offerings and most importantly, if it feels 100% aligned, then you’ve found your “ultimate why!” Make sure you have this written down and posted where you can see it daily. Maybe this is incorporated into your tagline and/or mission statement. Again, each business is unique, and you can use your “ultimate why” whichever way feels right to you. The most important thing to do is to keep sight of it and make your business decisions based on it.
If there’s something that stands out to you but does not connect with your offerings, it may be time to reevaluate and pivot as needed. That will, of course, look different to everyone. It may be a small shift or a major life-changing business decision. That might seem scary, but also very exciting. Something is telling you to go down a different path. This doesn’t have to happen overnight, but start exploring different options and see where it takes you.
Making money is never the real reason why we do things, and if it is, we’re usually left feeling empty and unsatisfied. It is simply a result of being in business, and an exchange of goods. Making a living is, of course, essential and important, but it will never be your “ultimate why.”
It’s time to take a better look at your current offerings. Your “ultimate why” is the core and heart of your business, but it is not necessarily the service or product of what you offer. If you are not sure of what your offerings should be, think about ways your “ultimate why” can turn into an actionable service or product.
To get started, write down a list of your existing or possible products and/or services. Then ask yourself, if money was out of the equation, why do I sell these products and/or offer these services? Write down the first thing that comes to mind, and write down multiple answers if they come to you.
Is there anything in your services/products that need to be tweaked or changed to fully align? Ask yourself these following questions:
• Do your services/products fulfill your “ultimate why” and how?
• What problem are you solving with your products/services?
• How do you want your ideal clients/customers to feel when interacting with your brand and offerings?
Write down a list of possible offerings you can provide that will connect with your “ultimate why.” Review that list. Do you have a background in any of your offerings? Will you need to do some research on an intriguing service you’d like to offer? Will there be training involved? What’s the best way to get started?
Normally if you are just starting out and discovering what you’d like to offer, it may seem overwhelming, but take it one day at a time. Spend 15 minutes a day researching, learning, exploring your new possible product or service. Breaking it down this way helps eliminate the feeling of needing to figure it all out right now. Good things take time and trust that it will happen!
Your core values are a set of 4–5 concepts or beliefs that are important to you and your brand. They support your “ultimate why,” overall mission, offerings, and all those tricky business decisions that show up and may just challenge your purpose. These core values normally start with exploring your brand’s buzz words (words that relate to your brand and business). If you don’t already have a set of brand buzz words, it’s time to figure those out before setting your core values.
To begin, start by writing out a list of all words that relate to your brand. Write what comes to mind and get as many words out on paper. Let’s say at the very least, 30 words or more. These can be similar, and again this doesn’t have to be the perfectly curated list. It’s just a good starting point.
Now take some time to review these possible buzz words. Highlight the ones that simply stand out to you the most. Review the highlighted words. How can they be integrated into values for your unique business?
A few questions you can ask yourself:
• Do any of these words reflect your ideal audience?
• Are there any assets in your products/services that quickly connect with any of these words?
• Is there anything you personally seek in your business that resonates with your list?
Once you have 4–5 words set as your top values. Write down why each one is a value in your business. Each value may have more than one reason, and that’s perfectly ok.
Once you work on these three steps, you’ll have a solid foundation for a thriving purpose-driven business. Make sure to have your “ultimate why,” your offering and your core values placed somewhere you can easily refer to on a daily basis.
If you’re looking for some more guidance, download my free worksheet to do a deep dive!
Edit: This worksheet has now been upgraded to a mini course (worksheet included)!