In the twenty years I’ve been a CEO and a strategist and advisor to other CEOs, I’ve discovered the entrepreneur who meets with the highest level of success has a Big Purpose or a Big Why.
The Life is Good brand, which has grown into a worldwide business in 4500 retail stores in 30 countries has as its Big Why: a world where all children grow up safe and loved and joyful, IKEA creates: well-designed furnishings for the home and prices them so low absolutely anyone can afford them.
Your Why is your fuel and the take-off place for your business. To find it, ask yourself why your business is important? What does it give the world that previously wasn’t there before?
Take the first answer that comes to you and ask, And why is that important? Now repeat this four or five times or until you boil it down to something that’s clear, powerful and resonates in your gut. It will sound mighty and big because it is.
● My real estate business is important because it contributes to positive social change by strengthening neighborhoods and communities.
● My nutritional products company is important because it contributes to planetary and personal wellness.
● My medical software company improves the care and comfort patients and their families receive.
Your Big Purpose is going to be the centerpiece of your business, and it is essential if you want to attract Exceptional People. Your Why may get your business started, Exceptional People keep it growing.
“It is the mission that creates motivation,” Tom Pandola and James Bird write in their new book, Light a Fire under Your Business. And it’s true, if it’s just about making money, you won’t attract the people who will bring their head and hearts with them. People motivated by numbers will leave you when someone offers them more money. People who are committed to something bigger will give you their best and more.
Once you’ve attracted exceptional people, pay attention to how they act –your values live in the actions of your best employees and your values create a Strong Culture. Once you’ve discovered these values through your employee’s actions, reference them when you talk or write to your clientele or whenever you interact with your employees. If an employee doesn’t adhere to the values, you can let them know. Weed out those employees who don’t share your values. It may sound harsh, but keeping employees who are not values-aligned is one of the most costly mistake a company can make.
It’s this repetition and consistency that build a Strong Culture.
One of the main reasons a culture stays strong is you, the leader. A strong entrepreneur knows how to “walk the talk”. If your Big Why is to make a product that’s sustainable for the environment, and you find yourself seduced by a better bottom line with a product that’s environmentally unkind, you need to be able to either stand behind your Why, or revisit it, though revisiting the Why too often can create dysfunction in the culture and may not attract Exceptional People.
If one of your values is Take risks to improve performance, and you want to keep that value as part of your company’s culture, then you have to be willing to take risks and make mistakes. You can’t punish people when their experiments fail.
To that end, maintaining your Big Why, Exceptional People, and a Strong Culture is the trinity that will make you a Great Entrepreneur.
CEO Orchard Advisors
Elizabeth Crook CEO of Orchard Advisors, helps entrepreneurs and enterprises do what they’ve never done before.
For over 20 years Elizabeth has been both a personal and organizational strategist to smart leaders in the U.S and Canada helping them grow their bottom lines and having more fun while they do it! As a Gazelles Certified Coach she helps clients make the four decisions every company must get right – People, Strategy, Execution and Cash. She is has a weekly blog on personal effectiveness at www.DiscoverYourYIPPEE.com.