What’s the Purpose of Your Business?
Meet Julie. Julie’s a business owner who started her business 4 years ago and is in the middle of a fantastic growth spurt for her business. Over the last 2 years, Julie and her team have more than doubled their revenue and they’re well on their way to doubling it again by the end of next year.
And it’s not just revenue – Julie is actually, finally, making real money. She’s not only paying herself but she’s even going to be recording a nice profit this year and she’ll be able to pay off her line of credit with the bank (at least for a few months until things pick up again).
But it’s not all sunshine and roses. Julie had to overcome a really bad hire last year (think theft and fraud) and because of that, she doesn’t really trust any of her employees. That means that she’s involved in every transaction, she signs off on every check and every invoice and she’s feels compelled to check in on every major (and most minor) interactions.
To say that’s she’s super busy would be a huge understatement. She’s working long hours during the week and trying to find time to catch up on everything else during the weekend when things finally quiet down in the office. She’s married, but things are definitely strained – and even though her family is thrilled with her success, they are struggling with what the business is doing to her (and to them…).
What’s the purpose of your business?
One day when Julie is out running some errands for the business, she runs into an old acquaintance of hers, Alice – a mentor she used to work with before she started her business.
After sharing some quick pleasantries, Alice convinces Julie to grab a quick coffee in the shop next door and they sit down to catch up.
Alice asks how things are going and Julie shares her story about the great growth and success she’s seeing with her business.
“That’s fantastic!” exclaims Alice… “But if things are going so well, why do you look so exhausted?”.
So Julie shares the rest of the story. She tells Alice how she has to be involved in everything and that if she doesn’t keep pushing then the whole thing could unravel over night.
Alice takes all of this in and then looks Julie in the eyes and surprises her with a simple question. “Julie – what’s the purpose of your business?”.
Thrown off guard, Julie initially just stares at her mentor. “What do you mean? We serve our customers and deliver…”. Before she can finish the sentence Alice interrupts, “I’m not asking what you do, I’m asking you what the purpose of your business is?”.
“To make money… I guess.” Julie answers weakly.
Alice just shakes her head, “If you’re not making money, then you don’t have a business to begin with. Making money isn’t the purpose of a business, it’s an expected outcome.”
Julie, frustrated now, just shakes her head and says “I guess I don’t know, I haven’t really given it much thought”. She’s not sure where Alice is going with this.
Alice replies, “That’s kind of my point. And I’m sorry for being mysterious, but I wanted to make a point. The purpose of your business, of any business really, is simply to help you get what you want out of life.”
“Wait… what?” Julie is confused. “The purpose of my business is to help me get what I want out of life? What about growth? What about serving the community? I keep hearing and reading about the importance of those kinds of things”.
“Those are great things, but they aren’t, or shouldn’t be your purpose”. Says Alice patiently. “The point is that your business is meant to serve you first and foremost – and if it’s not doing that, then what’s the point?”.
“So I’ll ask you the obvious question… are you getting what you want out of your life?” Alice asked directly.
Julie paused, and then really started to think about things. She started thinking about the long hours, the time away from her family, how tired she always seems to be. With a sigh she answers “No… I’m not getting what I want out of my life.”
Alice smiled at her “Then what can you do to change your business to start making that happen?”.
Are you getting what you want out of life?
Everyone has their own definition of success, but if you don’t take the time to define it for yourself it’s easy to get lost in someone else’s definition.
Julie’s story is very common. When was the last time you carved out a 1/2 day of time and really thought about where you were headed with your business? And how well that’s serving you?
What do you think? Is this something you think about every year or so? Is your business giving you what you want? If not, what are you doing about it? We’d love to hear your thoughts.
Shawn Kinkade Kansas City Business Coach