Discover How to Realign Your Business for Greater Purpose, Passion and Profit
Getting ‘cause alignment’ right is an integral part of creating a truly Evolved Enterprise…
This post will introduce you to how to find and align with your cause, avoid the pitfalls that even the biggest businesses make, and provide you with the next steps for fueling your business with more joy, creativity, impact and profit.
Aim for Transcendence
As covered in our previous post, an Evolved Enterprise is one that has moved beyond interacting with its clients and stakeholders on a ‘Transactional’ basis, via a ‘Transformational’ stage, to reach the highest level in the Evolved Enterprise framework; ‘Transcending’.
‘Transcending’ is when the business’s core objectives are about so much more than financial outcomes that the business may even engage in projects that pursue their greater mission even when there is no direct (or indirect) financial payoff.
For example, Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos is so passionate about their culture of ‘delivering happiness’ that his latest project involves transforming an entire city with his Downtown Project.
“At the transcending level, we truly move into an entrepreneurial art form. You’re using your business to creatively bring everything together from an elegant business model to an exponential impact for anyone your company interacts with.” – Yanik Silver
The core takeaway here is that in order to create a truly Transcendent business, you need to put impact first and then focus on finding customers who share your desire to see that impact realized.
In the end, your clients want to buy from you as a result of your shared desire for impact, and profits become the by-product of your impact objectives rather than the other way around.
BUT, this is not a process to be taken lightly… getting it wrong can lead to disastrous results.
”Pinkwashing” – An example of What Not to Do
Many larger corporations think about Corporate Social Responsibility and allocate budget for their “good works” and community service. This is arguably better than nothing but because these activities aren’t fully aligned with their core business functionality and ethos, they can often risk coming across as disingenuous or even manipulative…
In 2010, KFC launched a “Buckets for the Cure” campaign which promised to donate 50 cents of every bucket of fried chicken sold to a breast cancer-related charity. But critics called foul on the company’s mixed message.
New York University professor Marion Nestle pointed out that ”Being overweight or obese increases the risk of several cancers, including cancers of the breast (among women past menopause).”
And Barbara Brenner, executive director of Breast Cancer Action told media that her group believes the KFC campaign is based in “pinkwashing” — putting a pink, cancer-awareness ribbon on products that are bad for health.
Aligning With Your Cause – How to Get it Right
As we’ve already seen above, it is important to put your cause first… Bad things can happen when companies try to align with a cause just to look good, rather than the cause being at the core of what the company believes in.
Therefore, one of the first steps we recommend to entrepreneurs seeking to evolve into owners of transcendent business is to get crystal clear on their ‘why’.
The formula for this is simple, but not necessarily easy.
Often, it can start with asking yourself the right questions… Try a few of these to see if they get your creative juices flowing:
What is the biggest problem you’ve faced (and overcome) in your own life?
How could you help other people struggling with the same problem?
Doing this makes you an instant subject matter expert. It provides you with strong motivation and is deeply meaningful because you know the pain your potential customers are experiencing through firsthand experience.
It’s important to only pick problems you’ve faced, and conquered, or could conquer by building a product that you could sell to others… Many coaches and educators start out in this way, teaching what they have learned through trial and error.
Another example of this strategy but in relation to a physical product is Eco Fuel Africa, who make cooking fuel from agricultural waste.
Dirty cooking fuel and the problems associated with it were a problem that the founder, Sanga Moses had faced first hand. He was therefore able to create and deliver a product that solved a very real problem for thousands of customers experiencing the same problems.
His company now delivers clean cooking fuel made from agricultural products to over 105k households on a daily basis.
A classic question asked by motivational experts is “what would you do if you knew you couldn’t fail?”. We like that question too, and think it’s a great one for unleashing your imagination and tapping into big picture thinking… But when you want to bring a laser-beam focus on those projects or missions that are most dear to you heart, try this one out instead:
What would you do if you knew you would fail?
Answering this question forces you to think about what is most important to you in life. What missions are so important to you, that even if you knew you wouldn’t quite get there during your own lifetime, are still worth pursuing in their own right?
What do you see as the biggest problems humanity faces?
If they upset you, you can be sure they upset others too.
Elon Musk started Tesla and Solarcity out of a desire to help humanity move beyond the climate crises and into a clean, renewable energy future.
Tesla customers buy their cars partially due to their slick design but moreover, because they share Elon’s vision for a future without fossil fuels.
Narrow it Down to a List of One
Highlight the most important items on your list…
Maybe you only have a list of one? That may not be a problem, in fact, in many cases that’s the ideal scenario… Ultimately, the purpose of this exercise is to find the work you can’t NOT do.
In the Evolved Business Blueprint we dive into more detail around how to find your cause in:
– Your own life journey.
– Your team’s interests and passions.
– Your customers shared values.
– What your industry could ideally be doing.
Once you clear on your ‘Why’, the next step is to craft your vision, and for that you’ll need to dig into the 11 Impact Models.
The 11 Impact Models are the main ways that successful business owners have created thus far to fuse their business activities with making a meaningful difference in the world.
You can read more about the 11 Impact Models and download our funky infographic that gives you examples of real life businesses implementing these practices here.
To dig deeper on connecting with your cause and taking the next steps towards evolving your enterprise, check out our new course; Evolved Business Blueprint.