BAZA Production Last week, a client asked me to reschedule an upcoming meeting. This client’s office would be closed for a full week so that partners
Last week, a client asked me to reschedule an upcoming meeting. This client’s office would be closed for a full week so that partners and employees could participate in advocacy at a critical time. People were encouraged to head out to protests, take time for self-care, or do anything else they feel called to do. “The moment calls us into the streets and to slow down, simultaneously,” one of the partners shared. This decision is very much aligned with the overall values of their business and what they created the business to do.
I felt joy and excitement rush from my feet to the top of my head. This is why I chose to focus on serving mission-driven businesses. I believe that if we all can harness and focus on our individual talents, as a collective, we can create the change that we want to see. And, by the way, this business generates significant profit. They are proof that companies can combine positive social change and financial success.
Right now, it feels like we’re at a significant inflection point. And yes, we have been here before. But I’m seeing awareness and acceptance that can create meaningful action. I’m hearing from people who want to serve a higher purpose through entrepreneurship. If you feel like you’re being called to create or run a mission-driven business here are four fundamental elements to consider.
“Follow your passion” has become a bit of a cliché, and I definitely agree that passion is not enough to sustain a business. But it can certainly help entrepreneurs push through those tough first years. The Bureau and Labor Statistics reports that about 50% of small businesses fail within the first five years. Figuring out what is most important to you and letting that energy drive your action can help you succeed where others have failed.
In his popular TedTalk and book Start with Why, Motivational Speaker Simon Sinek explains why some people achieve things that defy all assumptions. As a matter of biology, he says, all human behavior comes from our limbic brain, that part that’s responsible for feelings and decisions-making. The great leaders of our time — Martin Luther King Jr., The Wright Brothers and Steve Jobs — connect with the limbic system to spur action.
You can do this, too. If you tap into your inner values and motivation, you are much more likely to take action and resonate emotionally; it will feel satisfying to do what you have to do. This is especially important when you consider that staying in business requires lots of little actions — marking, producing, tracking — performed on a consistent basis.
How do you find that inner “why?” Consider these three questions developed by George Kinder and taught at Kinder Institute of Life Planning.
Question 1: I want you to imagine that your company is financially secure, that it has enough money to take care of its needs, now and in the future. The question is…how would you structure your company? Would you change anything? Let yourself go. Don’t hold back on your dreams. Describe a company that is complete, that is richly yours.
Question 2: This time you are sure you will leave the company in five years. There is no reason to assume that the company will go bankrupt in the meantime. Also, there’s no guarantee that it will go well. What will you focus on in the coming five years?
Question 3: This time you are forced to let go of the company right now. Notice what feelings arise in you as you confront the fact that there will be a moment where you have to let go. Ask yourself: What did my company miss? What identity should the company have had? What developments were never made?
Answering these questions for yourself, can help you determine what is truly important to you and what underlying emotions really motivate you.
You can also help flesh this out by clarifying your business values. In the past, I’ve used value exercises online as well as value cards. This gives you a lens through which to make your decisions and also serves as inspiration for you and your employees, if you have them, for what your business is about.
The key is getting to know