Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One Step Ahead: What's your purpose?

When starting and building an online business, clarity of purpose is of utmost importance. Are you completely clear about what your business is designed to achieve? How it will operate? And who your customers will be?

Well in today's One Step Ahead, you will discover the true purpose of your business, your products, and YOU as the business owner.

A few issues ago, we talked about you creating your ideal life. And that specific intent and purpose are necessary to avoid frustration and disappointment.

This time we're talking about the Ultimate Purpose of Your Business. Because you can't build the business that will create your ideal life, if you have not clearly defined its purpose.

It is essential that the questions I presented above be answered BEFORE a business is launched. And when launching your business, with clarity of purpose, it is likely that you'll have some additional questions, like the one we discuss in this week's Reader Q&A Session below.

Specifically, how to go about hiring your first employee. So that person will help your business grow, instead of holding you back.

To higher profits,


The Ultimate Purpose of Your Business
By Rich Schefren

Before you can design your business, you must be able to define the overarching purpose for your business's existence.

Without a purpose, you can't know (nor can anyone who works for you) what your business is striving to achieve, or why it even exists in the first place. And when a business operates without this understanding, the business can't help but struggle.

In a purposeless business, everything feels chaotic, harried, unclear, and even meaningless. Meetings can go on for hours with endless. Decisions are seemingly arbitrary. Everyone has an opinion but no one has the final word. Your team members wander around with no clear goals and no set path to follow.

Without a clearly-defined purpose in place, seeing the way forward is a real challenge.

A Purpose Stacks the Odds in Your Favor

The probability that your business will succeed skyrockets when you have a clearly-articulated purpose. That's because:

1. Purpose improves your performance - When you are clear about the primary purpose behind the time and energy you spend working on your business, it will drive everything you do. Your productivity will soar because you'll have criteria to judge the effectiveness of everything you undertake.

2. Purpose draws A-player employees and outsourcers - Humans are a passionate species. We want to engage in meaningful work. Yet most businesses are completely devoid of meaning. So when your business actively cultivates and communicates its purpose, the best employees, partners, and vendors want to work for and with you because you provide meaning to their lives.

3. Purpose deepens employee engagement and increases their commitment - When your business provides employees with meaningful work, plus something to believe in, your business benefits from highly-engaged, passionate team members who are in it for more than just a paycheck. Better yet, employees who work in the service of something they feel true devotion to will bring the most energy and vitality to what they do. Work is no longer a 9 to 5 job to be endured... but a source of fulfillment and satisfaction. And if your business faces a difficult, seemingly impossible challenge, it'll be your business purpose that'll tap into the hearts and minds of your team to make the impossible possible.

4. Purpose provides a road map for your team so your business doesn't get off track - You want to build a business that continues to grow without your direct involvement. For that to happen, everyone needs to know your purpose. A strong sense of purpose keeps everyone on track. It also provides the roadmap your team can use to chart their course. It ensures that everyone stays on track and your business doesn't end up in a ditch, stalled out with everyone confused as to how the business got there.

5. Purpose drives successful innovation - Innovation for innovation's sake often results in a lot of wasted time and energy. But innovation designed to facilitate your business purpose is where meaningful progress is made. With a clear purpose, you'll be able to drive innovation in a constructive and meaningful way.

6. Purpose gives your business flexibility - Products, services, and practically everything else in your business will eventually change. The only thing that won't change is your purpose - but how you go about achieving it is always subject to change. By clearly defining your purpose you'll know when it's time to shift direction, change what you offer, or anything else.

7. Purpose builds your brand - By clearly and consistently communicating your purpose to your prospects, customers, and the world, you tell the world how to label and position your company. Over time, this repetition will create a brand in the minds of those who matter most to you.

8. Purpose leads to personal fulfillment and happiness - With a clear purpose, you end up feeling good about what you're doing because you're clear about how it moves your business forward. You're excited to get up in the morning because you have something big to shoot for.

Defining your purpose gives your business a reason for existing that goes beyond making money... Yet it almost always results in making more money than you ever thought possible.

When you design your business to fulfill a purpose, it will drive the business and ensure that something remarkable happens with your product or service. Purpose starts with the leaders, works its way through everyone in your business, and finds its way into the products, services, experiences, and, ultimately, into the marketing.

Companies You Know

Before we start digging to discover your business purpose, let's look at some familiar companies and their purposes.

* Google - To organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful.

* Facebook - To give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected.

* Wal-Mart - To save people money so they can live better.

* Disney - To keep the magic of childhood alive.

* Strategic Profits - To guide, advise, and nurture entrepreneurs to work less and make more while building the business of their dreams.

Discovering Your Business Purpose

Defining your business purpose helps you create a company that is capable of making a difference, making money, and - with a little luck - making history.

To discover your business purpose you must start with your customer. You need to find a deep-seated, unmet need that you're passionate about fulfilling in some unique way. Take a good hard look at the people you are trying to serve and find something thrilling to do for them.

The pursuit begins with a question: what do people need or want that we have (or could create) that no one else is offering them?

You always define your purpose from the point of view of your customers. In other words:

* What your products or services do for your customers...

* The effects your products or services have on the lives and work of your customers...

* The specific benefits your customers enjoy from using your products or services...

Think about a business that has a purpose based on detailed research of their market and customers. A purpose that's sure to fill a real need in the marketplace. Doesn't it make sense that a business designed this way has a much higher chance of success?

Your purpose has the greatest chance of success if it removes a pain, frustration, or challenge... In other words, if your purpose addresses or resolves a negative in the lives of your prospects and customers.

People spend an enormous amount of money, time, and energy avoiding pain. They avoid confronting neighbors, bosses, or spouses to avoid emotional pain. They gulp mountains of drugs to suppress physical pain. And they shell out good money on products that make their lives easier, happier, or better.

Short But Long Lasting

You should be able to articulate your business purpose succinctly, in one or two sentences. It should be broad, fundamental, inspirational, and enduring.

Don't confuse purpose (which should last at least 100 years) with specific goals or business strategies (which should change many times in 100 years).

Remember: you might achieve a goal or complete a strategy, but you cannot fulfill your purpose. Think of it as a guiding star on the horizon that lights your path from afar.

Your purpose doesn't need to be unique. The primary role of purpose is to guide and inspire; it's not a differentiating factor. It's entirely possible (although not probable) for two companies to have the same purpose.

Asking Why to Find Your Purpose

A powerful yet easy method for getting at your business purpose is the "Five Whys." You start with a descriptive statement, "We make X products" or "We deliver X service" and then ask, "Why is that important?" five times. After a few whys, you'll get down to the fundamental purpose of your business.

For example, let's take a look at Strategic Profits...

What does your business provide?
We provide products and programs to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses faster while working less.

Why is that important?
Entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of the economy and most are unprepared for properly navigating their businesses.

Why is that important?
Without proper training, the entrepreneurs' workload skyrockets while their overall chances of success plummets.

Why is that important?
The entrepreneur ends up sacrificing friends, family, and fun for marginal profits at best, bankruptcy at worst.

Why is that important?
For most small business owners, the American dream quickly turns into a nightmare destroying their families and finances in one fell swoop.

Why is that important?
When a business succeeds (the right way) everyone benefits - the owner and her family, the employees and their families, the businesses that supply her, and the customers that buy from her.

What would the world lose if my business ceased to exist?
A beacon of hope, freedom, and success for entrepreneurs worldwide.

So, Strategic Profits purpose is:
To guide, advise, and nurture entrepreneurs to work less and make more while building the business of their dreams.

Okay, now it's your turn. Answer the following questions to get at your business purpose:

* What does your business provide?
* Why is that important?
* Why is that important?
* Why is that important?
* Why is that important?
* Why is that important?
* What would the world lose if we ceased to exist?

Once you know why your business exists and what it has to offer, you and everyone you work with will be able to move forward with a clear direction. And that almost guarantees more money in your pocket.

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Today's Question and Answer with Rich

Question: Hi, Rich. Thank you for all you do. Since I started following your advice, my business has been growing. Now I am ready to hire my first full time employee to help my business grow. But I am not sure who it should be. Any advice? Keep up the good work, from Sarah.

Rich's Answer: Great question Sarah. Who you hire for your first employee is a critical decision in a small but growing business. Hire the right person and your growth will greatly accelerate. But, hire the wrong person and it can set you and your business way back. So here's my advice...

In order to hire the employee that'll help you grow your business the most, you must first know the answer to this question:

Based on where your business is today, which would most quickly grow your business more?

(1) If you had more time yourself to do what you're already doing to bring in revenue...

or (2) If you're business possessed certain skills that you either don't have or are not that skilled at.

Here's why your answer to this question is vital to making the right hiring move.

If your answer is (1) then you need to look at your schedule, and identify the biggest uses of your time that are not revenue generating. Then hire someone to take over those activities, so you can spend a lot more time on the activities you do that generate income.

If your answer was (2) then you need to identify those specific skills that would grow your business and begin searching for an employee that has those skills.

To give you greater perspective, when I first started coaching online entrepreneurs, my answer to the above question was (1) so I hired a cracker jack assistant named Sheila who took so much off my plate I was able to quickly double the business.

But as soon as business doubled, the answer to the question was (2) because I didn't have the technical knowledge to do too many things I was certain would grow my business. So my second hire was Dan, who knew both marketing and had the technical abilities I lacked.

With just Dan and Sheila business soared. Within 12 months sales had grown by a factor of 10. And so had my personal income!

Congratulations on your success Sarah. If you choose right, get ready to be much more successful.

Post Your Question For Rich Here...

It could be answered right here, in One Step Ahead!

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