Having a business purpose beyond profit

Having a business purpose beyond profit

Having a business purpose beyond profit

This may come as a shock but most employees do not leap out of bed in the morning excited by the prospect of making more profit for their organization that day. Profit may motivate senior executives but it rarely does so for the front-line unless they are shareholders too.

No, what motivates employees is feeling connected to the brand promise. That can be “Delivering Happiness” as in the case of Zappos or “saving the planet” as in the case of the World Wild-Life Fund. If you ask employees of Umpqua, the community bank based on Oregon, what their brand promise is, they will tell you “making customers feel dealing with Umpqua was the best thing that happened today”. Quite a tall order for a bank!

Why connecting people to a purpose – Having a business purpose beyond profit

Connecting people to a purpose is an important way of helping them feel good about your company. Why? because there is a very high correlation between the way your employees feel about the company and the way your customers do.

Top 7 good reasons not to use profit as primary business purpose:

  • Profit is an output and a symptom of success, not the cause
  • Profit is temporary and can be wiped out in an instant
  • In tough times, profit can be hard to come by
  • You need more purpose than profit to make it through
  • Profit doesn’t motivate the salaried staff who make success happen
  • Customers don’t appreciate being seen just for their revenue
  • Consumers are increasingly focusing on values and contribution to society when choosing who to do business with
Top 7 reasons not to use profit as primary business purpose

Top 7 good reasons not to use profit as primary business purpose

Businesses with a strong sense of purpose are more successful

Why connecting people to a purpose? Having a business purpose beyond profit

Stand for something beyond simply increasing profits

Businesses with a strong sense of purpose are more successful

A true vision for a business rests on foundations of both purpose and values. The people within the business have to be passionate about what they do and why they do it. The business goals must then align with this foundation. Without a clear foundation, a business will never be truly strategic.

So better stand for something beyond simply increasing profits. Create products or provide services or serve causes that clearly add value in the world, making it possible for employees to derive a sense of meaning from their work, and to feel good about the companies for which they work.

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About The Author

Torben Rick

Experienced senior executive, both at a strategic and operational level, with strong track record in developing, driving and managing business improvement, development and change management. International experience from management positions in Denmark, Germany and Switzerland.

Blog Comments

Excellent article Rick, I couldn’t agree more. When you lead with value and have a strong sense of purpose that changes peoples lives, the financial results just follow. Those that only focus on financial results, never survive the challenges that all businesses face from time to time. They will not stay committed to the company and will always be lured by the grass seeming greener somewhere else. When people are committed to the vision, they take on a higher level of responsibility, leadership and commitment.

Agree! It’s sad how some major businesses around the world still believe in generating revenues neglecting the fact that employee and customer loyalty to the brand vision and values will assure the continuity of revenue generation!

Thanks Rick, great article

Dear Torben

Thank you for another great article.

You have a talent for speaking clearly from the heart with good objective facts to back up good ideas.

Keep up the good work.

Best regards,
Larry Traynor

Hi Torben

I have just come across your blogs and I really appreciate your style. This article spoke to me because you have combined two factors, people and profit, in a way that is authentic and you have communicated your message with compelling metaphor and picture painting (employees jumping out of bed!).

Thank you for your leadership here,

Jeremy Devlin-Thorp

Torben, I appreciate what you said about connecting to a higher purpose. It reminded me of the work I did with Southwest Airlines. Their higher purpose is to provide lower cost airfares that provide their customers the “freedom to fly”. It’s a great, motivating purpose. But they complement this with a focus on generating profits. It is profits that provide job security, versus their competitors continually going bankrupt. It is profits that fund growth. And profits are tangible metrics that enable the employees to see they are making progress toward their “freedom to fly” purpose.

I agree with: profit doesn’t motivate the salaried staff who make success happen. I have been working for one of the largest companies out there as an admin assistant for 15 years now. Have tried to get ahead so I can get a better salary but it has been useless. I work hard, have a degree and does that really matter? I don’t think it does. I am just a number for this company. This company just cares about making a profit. I don’t feel motivated to get out of bed in the morning since this companies success doesn’t belong to me. Thanks for this article.

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