What is the benefit of having a strong mission in your business?
We all probably heard that to have a successful business, you need to clearly express its mission – and we intuitively understand the potential benefits of this approach. In reality though, according to a recent PwC survey, while 79% of business leaders thought that their mission is central to success, 68% shared that mission is not actually used in day to day decision-making.
According to the same survey, employees that have a strong connection to company’s mission are over 5 times more likely to stay. The same dynamic applies to customers. Think about it: as a customer, what are your favourite companies? Do they have a strong mission component or are they purely and openly profit driven?
Before we go any further, let us then get clear on the what a mission-driven business is. A mission-driven business is a business that consistently makes decisions based on the mission, in addition to other factors, like profit. Mission-driven businesses trust (and are proven right by research) that following their purpose is also good for business. It is the first consideration for them, not last.
Running a mission-led business comes with superpowers. Here are just some of the benefits you will draw from staying true to your mission. And if you already are a mission-driven entrepreneur, let this list serve you as a much-needed reminder of your advantages.
You are more ambitious
As Michael E. Gerber argues in many of his books, entrepreneurship is about a dream bigger than you. It’s the process of realising a vision for the world, for others.
Being motivated by success and benefits only takes you so far. One person can only spend so much money and benefit from so much attention. The real impact and real fulfilment come the moment when other people come into the picture. What is the future you are willing to create for your close ones? What about your team? Your community? What about the world?
You are more resilient
Building on the previous point, when you are driven by a mission bigger than yourself, you grow to be a bigger person than you know yourself to be. You are willing to go further. To transcend problems and situations that stopped you in the past. You become resilient.
Why is resilience important? In many ways, entrepreneurship is about failing often, learning, and trying again. And for that, what really makes the difference, is a context that is larger than your personal dreams of success and fulfilment. As life and research reliably prove, you will find those when you focus on serving others.
Your customers and stakeholders trust you and are more loyal
Think back again to how you make decisions as a customer. When a business you deal with states that their mission is important, and then act consistently with that statement, you will develop trust for them. If, in addition, you like the product or service they offer, you will most likely develop loyalty as well. You may even recommend it to a friend, which is the ultimate compliment any business can receive.
What if that same company openly stated that what’s most important for them is profit? These companies enter in a standoff relationship with their customers. Customers will use the business only as long as they need to, even if the product is great. They will be open to, or even actively look for an alternative, one more aligned with their values. Will they recommend it to a friend? Less likely, and if they do, it will be with a caveat or a warning.
You make faster & better decisions
Long-term and strategic decisions become easier when you fully embrace your mission. There’s simply less viable options that align with both running a successful business and realising your mission. Those ‘good’ options also tend to be more inspiring, as they push you to be creative and continue to innovate. Which brings us to…
You inspire richer innovation (and attract better talent)
By fully integrating your mission into your company, you take on a higher task. A more difficult task. This difficulty pushes you to be creative, so you seek solutions beyond what your competitors do. You will need to adapt innovation as a continuous way of operating your business.
And guess what smart and talented people love? They love solving hard problems no-one else solved before! They will reliably choose your company over other, less innovative ones. They will also be happier more engaged and stay with you longer. Especially if they are pretty confident that all the work they put in will make a positive difference in the world.
You are willing to look at unintended consequences
This one may be surprising, but it has huge impact on our ability to follow our mission and have positive impact.
Not all impact we have is positive. Some of the things we make will have negative consequences - on the wellbeing of the individual customer (eg. social media and anxiety) and the local or even global ecosystems (eg. sharing economy and its displacement of local economies).
It takes courage and commitment to the mission to look at these consequences. They can be costly, they can be difficult to undo. But a mission-led business will find a way to mitigate them, even if it doesn’t immediately result in increased profits. Taking responsibility for your actions will always create trust and benefits in the long run.
Whether you are already on the path of being mission led, or are looking into making the transition, these are just some of the benefits. By becoming mission-led you are assuming full responsibility for your impact. Not the negative kind of responsibility that we are taught all our lives, but as a choice. A willingness to deal with what you'll be facing as entrepreneur from the view that you are the source of what you do. It's the one place where your vision for the world, the thing that pushed you to start your business, seems possible.