Meaningful Work

I was recharging my ‘business batteries’ this morning, reading about business purpose, when I got drawn in to the concept of meaningful work.

The overall concept is that if you know the larger purpose of your business, one of the things that will happen is that you and your employees will know that they are involved in meaningful work.  Everyone will come to work knowing their part in achieving the end goal.

Much has been written about the younger generations and how they want to do meaningful work.  This made me think about how the baby boomers approached work and whether or not they also wanted to be involved in something meaningful at work.  My view is that as boomers entered the job market, they were thrilled to just have a job, as there were more boomers than there were open positions.  Their first priority was food and shelter (no one wanted to live with mom and dad).

Of course, having an entire generation of workers that were in jobs just to meet the basic needs led to endless complaining.  When I think of all of the hours that were wasted with people complaining as they collected their pay checks… well it all seems so silly.  Workers would then rush home to be involved with their kids soccer team, or take their family boating, or doing volunteer work.  Outside of work is where they fulfilled their desire to be contributing to a larger purpose.

In today’s world we can provide ourselves and our employees with the opportunity to do something meaningful through our jobs.  Actually, if you want to attract and retain younger workers it is critical that you can express the larger purpose of your business to them. Younger workers, and many more workers in general, have meaningful work as a higher priority than pay and benefits.

I highly recommend that business owners spend time taking a good look at their business to realize what the purpose is.  Being able to clearly articulate your business purpose will go a long way in attracting good employees and in having a cohesive work environment.

Your Dreams Come True

Swan - Dreaming of babies to come

As business owners we make dreams come true.  They may not be dreams of a fancy vacation or jumping out of an airplane, but everyone has dreams.  Your business may be one that keeps life smooth and trouble free for your customers.  Now who doesn’t dream of smooth sailing through the days of our lives?

If you think about what the dream would be like that you fulfill for your customer, you then have a great marketing message.  Getting to the dream helps to focus on why your business is different and how you fulfill the emotional need of the customer.

Here are some business ideas to consider:

Hairdresser:  Do you cut hair or do you help people to express who they really are?  Is the dream to be able to sit in the chair and not have to worry about what you will look like in half an hour?  Is the dream to know that you can depend on your hair stylist to make you look your best?

Accountant:  Is the dream to feel secure in the managing of your business finances?  Is it to not have to worry everyday that the IRS is going to come knocking at your door?  Is it to know that your business records will tell you when you are in trouble or when you are financially flush?

Travel Counselor:  Do you just get people to a place that they have always dreamed about or do you get them there will no worries or hassles?  Is the dream to be in a wonderful location that you can enjoy or is it to just get there, regardless of the inconvenient connections and bad food?

Real Estate Agent:  Is it the dream house or is it the dream of having a home that you can comfortably afford and take care of?  Is it the house or is it also the journey of buying it knowing that your agent is protecting your interests?

Consider the dream of your ideal customer.  Make sure that when someone asks what you do that you tell them how you fulfill the dreams of your customers.  This will make you stand out as a business and blow the competition away.


What happens when the going gets tough?

When it is late in the day and you are still working on finishing a client report, revising your website or maybe even cleaning the floors of your retail shop what is it that keeps you going and focused?  Some people can stay motivated by the money, but there are lots of ways to bring in money (and you don’t necessarily have to wash floors).  What is it about the business that you have chosen to dedicate yourself to that gives you that spark of delight?

It is my contention that if you can clearly define the difference that you are trying to make in the world, then you will always know your motivation.  If you can articulate the purpose of your business and how you ultimately want to be able to help people, even if in a small way, then you will have a successful and long lasting business.

Let’s be honest, owning your own business is not always delightful and rosy.  There are times when you wonder what the heck you were thinking when you decided to take it all on yourself.  Even if you can afford to hire others to do some of the work that you do not enjoy, there will always be some challenge within the business.  This is not a bad thing, it just is the way it goes.  The question is, “How will you handle it?”

When you know your purpose, it will always be there to support you.  Sometimes just remembering it will put that smile on your face as you make that last phone call of the day. Many times, your purpose will be your guidepost.  It will help you to make decisions by answering the question, “Will this help us to further our purpose?”  Your purpose will be what binds your team together.  It will help you to make hiring decisions… and also firing decisions.  And yes, your purpose will help you to remember the smile that you put on your customers’ faces as you mop that last square foot of the store.

Don’t under estimate the value and power of having a clearly articulated business purpose.  I have found it to be an essential building block to the foundation of a successful business.

Passion and Purpose

Many a small business becomes reality because the founder has an interest they are passionate about. Be it sky diving, health care, photography, or fishing, the owner of the business just loves to be surrounded by the energy of this activity.  If we take a deeper look we can often discover an underlying purpose or how this particular business is striving to make a difference in the world.

The key to seeing your purpose is to look beyond what you do to what the impact is on the customer. How have you made their life easier, happier, or more fulfilling?  Think bigger and broader.  Why is it important that you do what you do?  Does the existence of your business matter?  Do you solve an emotional issue for the customer?

If you feel yourself getting enthusiastic about answering these questions, then you are most likely running a business that has an underlying purpose.  Taking the time to articulate this purpose will help you to run your organization with more clarity, conviction, and ease.  You will be able to use it as a guidepost, a solid foundation upon which to make all decisions.  Decision making becomes simplified when asking the question, “Does this help to further our Purpose?”

Having a passion for what you do is a dream that many would love to fulfill.  Knowing why you do it brings out a whole new story.