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May 22, 2017

Why every startup needs a purpose

Fix yourself before you fix the world

The strongest business ideas are rooted in a purpose that promises to change society, a category or take on an apathetic market leader, says Paul Cash, CEO of Rooster Punk…

Entrepreneurs, more than anyone else, share a common desire to make their mark on the world. But there’s one problem when it comes to their ideas: the majority are driven by a powerful sense of their personal beliefs and experiences as opposed to anything more outwardly facing and purposeful. Let me explain.

We live in an era, where many technology companies seek legitimacy by having a purposeful and believable story to tell. The marketing movement championed by Simon Sinek of trying to find your ‘Why’ has caused many sleepless nights for super bright founders who simply don’t have one.

Inner beliefs by their very nature are personal i.e. giving a two-finger salute to the naysayers who said they’d never achieve anything or simply just to create something amazing. Or dare I say it, because they want to be rich. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with these inner beliefs. They are genuine and authentic. However, they are not purposeful in the true sense of the word.

Many entrepreneurs get so blinded by their own passions, that they inevitably hit what I like to call, ‘The Entrepreneurs Wall’ where their idea and business plateaus. For these companies to carry on being successful, the founder needs to fix their own beliefs before they can find a purpose that employees, investors and customers can rally behind.

An authentic purpose that brings everyone in the business together will minimise the risk of business slowing and make a positive difference to the lives of employees, communities and the world.

When Gandhi said: “As human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world… as in being able to remake ourselves”. He was saying that the problem with changing your outer world without changing yourself first is that you will still be you when you reach that change you have strived for and nobody will be on board with your vision.

Reframing your view so that you find an outer belief is a far more powerful driver that will have a bigger impact on the people around you, and the world.

But what do outer beliefs look like? You might think things like reducing education inequality, ridding the world of disease and ending homelessness sound like causes people would rally behind, but you also need to think about challenging the conventions of your category, pitching yourself against the apathy of the market leader, or taking a stance on the side of a social cause that’s going to make meaningful difference to society and your category.

Get it right, and you’ll have employees, the market, customers and investors behind you. Companies with a true belief-based culture where everybody understands why they come to work and where the company is heading transcends other brands in its category to become iconic and memorable.

Inner beliefs may motivate a lot of people to start companies, but it’s outer beliefs that give people purpose and open doors to brands that can leave their mark in the universe.

Post produced in partnership with Paul Cash, CEO at Rooster Punk.

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